Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County – In an effort that organizers say will help youth protect themselves and their communities, area educators, firefighters, police officers and other adults are learning how to teach teens emergency response skills this weekend.

More than 70 people from around the region are participating in the “train-the-trainer” Teen Community Emergency Response Team workshop, which began Friday in Prince George’s County and was scheduled to end Sunday.

Participants learn to teach teens how to set up medical treatment areas, extinguish small fires, help reduce survivor stress, and identify and anticipate hazards, according to the Teen CERT brochure.

Gerald “Skip” Lawver, an associate professor at Eastern Michigan University, devised the Teen CERT program in 2005, to educate teenagers about disasters, first aid, search and rescue, incident command, terrorism, disaster psychology and fire suppression.

“Our proximity to the nation’s capital means we are part of the No. 1 target for a terrorist attack, so that means homeland security has to be very important to us,” Rep. Albert Wynn told The Examiner after addressing workshop participants Friday.

“Training young people to appreciate their role in homeland security is critical.”

Lawver said he hopes students who participate in Teen CERT are “integrated into schools’ disaster response plan.”

“We are changing the culture of emergency management and disaster preparedness,” he said.

Calvin Hawkins, chief of community affairs and education for Prince George’s Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management, helped organize the program.

He said 22 county teens completed a Teen CERT workshop over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and another teen training session is scheduled for March.

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