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Elementary and Primary Education
Harris County Department of Education
News Release
Monday, February 20, 2012

Student final exam set for Feb. 24 features fire suppression, search-and-rescue drills
HCDE, Harris County Citizens Corps collaborative ‘Teen CERT’ teaches teens from 17 districts to be first responders at disasters

High school students from 17 area school districts are enrolled in a program that could help save lives.  Their final exam includes putting out fires, triaging patients, search-and-rescue tactics and disaster relief. The program is called Teen Community Emergency Response Team, or Teen CERT.  Teen CERT is coordinated by Harris County Department of Education and the Harris County Citizens Corps initiative, a project led by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. During the past seven years, about 4,000 students have been trained.

What:     Teen CERT Final Drill, (teens practice fire suppression, search and rescue tactics)
Who:      200 Students from Katy, Crosby, Aldine, Humble, North Forest, Galena Park, Waller
When:    Feb. 24, 2012 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. (media opportunity)
Where:   Harris County Fire & Sheriff’s Training Academy, 2318 Atascocita, Humble, TX
Etc.:       Call Carol Vaughn, HCDE, 281-660-9205 for media opportunities

Approximately 1,700 students from the following school districts and schools are receiving Teen CERT training in 2011-2012:  Aldine (Nimitz High School, MacArthur High School and Eisenhower High School), Crosby (Crosby High School), Galena Park (North Shore High School), Houston (Wheatley High School), Huffman (Hargrave High School), Humble (Humble High School, Kingwood High School, Summer Creek High School, Kingwood Park High School and Career and the Technology Education Center), Katy (Cinco Ranch High School, Mayde Creek High School, Morton Ranch High School, Raines High School), La Porte (La Porte High School), North Forest High School (North Forest High School), Spring (Westfield High School, Dekaney High School and Carl Wunsche High School), Spring Branch (The Guthrie Center) and Waller (Waller High School)

 As students are taught to be first responders, they learn what to do at the scene of a disaster such as a fire or medical emergency.  Specifically, students learn basic first-aid skills.  They receive classroom instruction about organizing spontaneous volunteers at disaster sites or help with non-emergency projects to improve community and school safety.  Training includes light search and rescue, disaster psychology, terrorism, 911 communications and hazardous materials awareness. 

“Students receive training after or during the school day through an established curriculum which is used throughout the nation,” said Otis Harr, manager for the Center for Safe and Secure Schools, a division of Harris County Department of Education.  “Students gain leadership skills and bolster their self-confidence and get the chance to give back to their communities. They are excited to put their knowledge to action during these mock disaster drills.”

Educators support the program because it helps students develop higher-order, critical-thinking skills as students take on real-world issues.  Teen CERT curriculum is correlated to state standards in math, English/language arts, social studies, science and technology applications.

“It’s wonderful to see high school students take on the responsibility of preparing themselves and their families for emergencies,” said Harris County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan.  “They are acquiring skills that make our community stronger and better prepared.”

In 2012, Teen CERT seeks funding for educational materials and student scholarships.  Coordinators continue to review various funding opportunities and to offer Teen CERT curriculum to students in the future, said Center for Safe and Secure Schools manager Harr.  For more information about Teen CERT, contact Rosie Flores, Teen CERT coordinator at HCDE’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools at (713) 696-0770 or .

About HCDE: Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 26 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, and Head Start programs. HCDE offers purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at

About Harris County Citizens Corps:  Harris County Citizens Corps is a nationally recognized project led by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.  The HCCC is committed to bringing together local leaders, citizen volunteers, and the network of first responder organizations, such as fire and police departments, to share resources and to train individuals on how to handle a disaster situation. People who are trained to help themselves and their neighbors will allow emergency personnel to focus on those in critical need following a disaster. The HCCC coordinates with volunteer groups such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the United Way, and Citizen Corps programs to identify volunteer opportunities. The Citizen Corps programs include the Community Emergency Response Team, the Neighborhood Watch Program, Volunteers in Police Service, Fire Corps and the Medical Reserve Corps.

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