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students using fire extinguisher
Students learning how to use a fire extinguisher

In response to the devastating wildfires in Lahaina and Kula, Maui, Hawaiʻi’s first statewide disaster response training program tailored specifically for teens was developed and immediately put into action. A total of 110 students from 13 high schools across the state gathered at Baldwin High School in Wailuku from October 9–11 for the opportunity to train for emergencies and discuss ways to contribute to the long-term disaster recovery process and future disaster planning.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ (CTAHR) Maui County Extension 4-H program collaborated to organize the training, which was based on the national Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The teens were trained in hands-only CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator), fire safety and suppression, cribbing (using a temporary structure to support heavy objects to extract trapped survivors), medical triage, light search and rescue and first aid. Additionally, the students learned about home hazard identification, stress management, as well as supporting survivors after a disaster.

students receiving certificates
Participants received certificates following their training

“With this exposure to basic CERT training—reinforced by lots of hands-on activities—we hope students will be comfortable enough to be able to apply such skills in real-life situations,” said Maui County Associate Extension Agent Nancy Ooki. “We hope they will step up as leaders, be a calm voice and assist their fellow students and school in an emergency.”

Tests administered before and after the event indicated students improved their knowledge of disaster preparedness and response by 41%. In recognition of what they learned, they received certificates from Maui County Cooperative Extension and additional event organizers ClimbHI, American Red Cross of Hawaiʻi and the Maui County Mayor’s office.

Additional trainings are planned on Maui, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi. For more information, contact Ooki at or visit Hawaiʻi State 4-H.

Read more at the CTAHR website.

students in grassy area practicing new skills
Students demonstrating their triage skills during a live disaster simulation
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