Brian Kelly

IMPERIAL, Mo. (KMOX)-After what we’ve seen from Joplin, Missouri to Harrisburg Illinois it was an all to believable scenario: a tornado hits a church during mass, and several people are injured and trapped under debris. But it was only a drill Thursday morning as 8th graders at St. Joseph Catholic School in Imperial underwent Community Emergency Response Team training.

Rock Community Fire Protection District Spokesman Ron Harder says students from the 8th grade on up, at schools throughout the district are being trained to establish a command structure, map out the scene and dispatch teams of students and save lives, “They can start taking care of injured students, triaging them, getting definitive care to them, search and rescue, putting out small fires even before first responders get on the scene.”

Harder says in some cases it could take minutes, hours, even days before first responders may be able to get to the scene, so this training could save lives, “Having responders like this is really going to assist us on the scene. At least we know that some definitive care is going to be done before first responders arrive on the scene.”

He says in case of a disaster, the trained students will be deployed by their principal or teachers and the school nurse will be main incident commander.

The students are trained on how to search debris, safely lift objects off victims and determine which areas are too dangerous to go into, “Rescuer safety is number one, a priority. We even teach them confined space rescue where they have to go under the stage and rescue students that may have hidden. However, they do not enter any type of area of it’s too dangerous. They’re taught markings, on how to mark those areas properly so when first responders do get on the scene they know that they did attempt to search but it was too dangerous.

They’re also trained on how to identify the extent of injuries, even deciding which patients are too close to death to assist, Harder says, “They’re taught that in a disaster it’s about getting the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people.”

Harder says they’re also instructed that if it all becomes too much for them, they should step back and talk to a counselor, teacher or pastor on the scene.

Click here to see pictures of today’s training.

St. Joseph 8th grader Julia Vance says if a disaster were to happen tomorrow, she and her classmates would be ready, “We have great teamwork together and we can really pull together and rescue some people.” Classmate Abby Miriani agrees, “If something were to happen tomorrow or today, we’d be very ready and good and we could help out.”

The training is conducted monthly.

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