Teens learn emergency preparedness in unique program - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Teens learn emergency preparedness in unique program

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

A program right here in the Lowcountry is the first of it's kind in the country. It's teaching kids what to do in case of an emergency. Charleston Police say CERT Explorer Post is not only benefiting the teens involved, but the rest of our community.

"It's made my teen years a lot more fun," said Ghi.

For any teen, high school can be tough but 16-year-old Haley Ghi has finally found her niche.

"It was kind of difficult for me at first because I didn't know anybody didn't really have anything to do and didn't feel like I fit in," said Ghi. "Then, I found this and it has helped me a lot with finding people who are interested in the same things I am."

Ghi joined the emergency preparedness program for teens called CERT Explorer Post. It's chartered through Learning for Life and sponsored by the Charleston Police Department.

The program is open to teens 14 to 20 years old. CERT gives them a chance to not only meet other teens, but giving them an opportunity to learn life-saving skills.

Ghi is only one of two females involved so far, but says she comfortable and confident around the guys.

"It's helping my social skills a lot," said Ghi. "It's helping me get out there and say hi to people and just strike up a conversation."

"Disasters can happen at any time," said Valerie White, CERT Adviser.

Ghi and her fellow members learn skills in a classroom setting, then they get to take it outside and practice real life scenarios like putting out a fire, administering CPR and even water rescues.

Ghi's favorite activity so far was a camping expedition.

"We actually had to go, type in coordinates and find locations of victims," said Ghi. "It was actually really fun."

Charleston Police Officer Harry Sosa says he's already seeing the training pay off.

"One of the students that was with us, he pulled over on the side of the road and helped somebody and he wouldn't have done that before," said Officer Sosa. "So, it's one of those things they're getting confidence to handle an emergency."

Officer Sosa says their knowledge will not only help law enforcement, but the community.

"The community benefits because they've got trained people out there that can help when we cant get there right away," said Officer Sosa.

Ghi says with her training, she feels she'd be ready to help someone in need in a moments notice.

"My immediate gut instinct would be to go and help," said Ghi.

"Our youth are our future leaders, they're the ones who are going to step into our shoes and carry forward," said White.

CERT Explorer Post has opened up to middle school students, several area middle schools are now hosting their own CERT clubs.

The program is only continuing to grow, Officer Sosa says they recruit year-round.

Organizers say they're reaching out to other law enforcement agencies like Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston and Goose Creek for involvement as they expand the program. It's $26 a year to participate.

If you're interested, check out more information here.

Copyright WCSC 2013. All rights reserved.

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