SAN JUAN, PR – They are young, enthusiastic and prepared to respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards in their school and communities. A few weeks ago a group of teenagers in Humacao, led by Gabriela Rodriguez-Boria, completed their Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training as part of Gabriela’s project as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region II Youth Council Representative.
While seeking opportunities to prepare youngsters to be ready before and after a disaster strikes, Gabriela’s project includes CERT training for teenagers. CERT is a program that educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. With a solid commitment to encourage that generations are better aware of emergency preparedness, FEMA counts on programs, such as CERT and projects like Gabriela’s to help communities become smarter and more resilient sooner.
“As we prepare our plans, we have to keep in mind the importance of including younger audiences in the process. Youngsters have a significant influence on their peers and families, and we see Gabriela and her project as a good example. She drives this preparedness message further on,” said FEMA’s Caribbean Area Division Director, Alejandro De La Campa.
Thirteen-year old Gabriela, organized a CERT of approximately 15-20 students at the school she attends, the Colegio Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro in Humacao. Her parents and this private school have been very supportive and involved in Gabriela’s activities to the point of completing various emergency preparedness courses.
“We are organizing a Preparedness Day at our school and plan to replicate the Teen CERT training in other schools in neighboring communities. We can get our schools, neighbors, churches, families and friends involved in similar activities so they can learn surviving techniques for future emergencies. This is my goal,” said Gabriela, who represents FEMA Region II in the Youth Preparedness Council. Puerto Rico is one of the jurisdictions under this Region, which also includes New York, New Jersey and the US Virgin Islands.
This week, March 3-9, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FEMA have partnered again for the National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, futhering the readiness message and encouraging every one in our communities to get better prepared for severe weather events. Gabriela’s project represents an innovative and personal approach to improve emergency preparedness in her community.
There is additional information about Gabriela’s project and the Youth Council at www.citizencorps.gov/getstarted/youth/youthindex. If you are interested in becoming a CERT member, locate the nearest CERT team or check for upcoming training opportunities, visit www.citizencorps.gov/cert. Learn more about emergency preparedness and how to improve your community resiliency to emergency situations by visiting www.fema.gov, www.weather.gov or www.ready.gov.
FEMA News Desk (787) 296-3554, 3560
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.