Regina Catholic Education Center, first school in eastern Iowa to participate in the National Youth Emergency Program


The Regina Catholic Education Center has launched its collaborative adolescent program CERT with Johnson County EMA to teach high school students about disaster preparedness.

Ayrton Breckenridge

Johnson County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Travis Beckman speaks during a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class at the Regina Catholic Education Center on Thursday, September 30 2021. The class is one of the first in Iowa and hopes to develop leadership and first responder skills for high school students.

The Regina Catholic Education Center trains high school students in emergency skills, such as first aid and disaster preparedness, as part of a collaborative program with the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency.

Part of a national program of the US Department of Homeland Security, the Regina Community Emergency Response Team program trains 16 high school students. Regina is the first school in Iowa to have this program.

The Community Emergency Response Team is a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The program “educates people on disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, search and rescue. light, crew organization and disaster medical operations, ”according to the FEMA website.

Johnson County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Travis Beckman, Regina Federal Emergency Management Agency Program Coordinator, is one of the course instructors.

“I pitched them the idea of ​​CERT for teenagers within Regina and how it might complement their emergency operations plan,” Beckman said. “I got a lot of support explaining how they can be a supportive factor in an emergency within the school. “

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The Regina Community Emergency Response Team project is in its early weeks, but the project was first developed in 2018. By the time it was ready to recruit students, the program was delayed due to COVID-19.

Students who complete this year’s Community Emergency Response Team program will also be able to participate in future Regina certification programs as long as they are still enrolled in the school.

Beckman said the information provided will change enough from year to year that returning students can learn new things.

“A lot of the skills, and as they are intentionally designed by FEMA, are also meant to be brought back to your own home, to your neighborhood, to your workplace,” Andy Cutter, Team Leader at Johnson County community emergency response and member of the Regina Board of Education, said. “You have these skills in everything from first aid to disaster search and rescue, flood mitigation and preparedness. “

Beckman said students only need to take the course once to earn community emergency response team certification.

The 16 students are in grades 10-12 and were approved by the board based on faculty recommendations, Cutter said.

Regina guidance counselor Lynne Zoulek said faculty and administration are excited about the program and are already planning to continue the Regina Community Emergency Response Team program.

Beckman said the program will train 16 students to become leaders in the Iowa City community.

“This is going to provide them with skills that not all high school kids have,” he said.

The nine-session program began September 22 and ends November 5.

Beckman says he’s issued invitations to schools in eastern Iowa to set up a CERT certification program like what’s being done with Regina students.

“There is a lot of pride with the students who are chosen,” Zoulek said. “They are delighted to be in the program. Travis gave them badges last week, and a few of them were like, “Can we wear these to school all the time?” “”

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