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University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu disaster preparedness and emergency management students recently went through training exercises to become certified as the first-ever University of Hawaiʻi Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). These community-based teams are recognized by the City and County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management and other government agencies, and are made up of volunteers who assist first responders in affected communities immediately after a disaster. CERT members are trained in triage, damage assessment, evacuation and other important skills in emergency situations.

“The goal of CERT is to do the most good for the most number people,” said Jason Levy, UH West Oʻahu associate professor of disaster preparedness and emergency management.

In the most recent training exercise, the CERT participants rotated between three training exercises that required an incident commander, triage, extraction and medical team. The remaining students played the roles of survivors.

UH West Oʻahu student Derek Walker explained, “What we do is we come together as a community, a household member, and what we do is, we learn those certain skills.” They then transfer those skills into the everyday real-world situations.

“As a first responder, Iʻve never been able to get to the place I need to get to fast enough. But, as a citizen now, in my own neighborhood, I can respond as soon as I take care of my family and myself, I can assist my neighbors,” added UH West Oʻahu student John Stewart.

To become certified, UH West Oʻahu student team members also had to complete 20 hours of coursework as part of the PUBA 461: Social Dimensions of Disaster Response class. UH West Oʻahu students who successfully completed training exercises participated in a CERT graduation ceremony at UH West Oʻahu and received certificates.

UH West Oʻahu offers a bachelor of public administration degree with a concentration in disaster preparedness and emergency management, and a certificate in disaster preparedness and emergency management. All courses meet the national standards as established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Higher Education Project.

For more information, visit the UH West Oʻahu disaster preparedness and emergency management webpage.

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