April 23, 2021 – With wildfire season fast approaching many organizations are getting ready. One of those organizations is the Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. The Teen CERT program is overseen by the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office and plays a vital role in high school disaster readiness. The Teen CERT program is a nationally supported, locally implemented initiative that teaches high school students how to better prepare themselves for hazards that may affect their school and extended community. Before, during, and after disasters, Teen CERT students perform basic response activities, distribute safety information to students, and support the school’s emergency response plan.

“With students in distance learning or a hybrid model, due to COVID, 2020 was a challenging year for the Teen CERT program” says Director of School Safety Chris Espedal, “but the community threats we face are still there and must be planned for.” This year with more schools opening, and more staff and students vaccinated, the Teen CERT program hopes to pick back up the training for students.

They will be better equipped to conduct disaster readiness and medical training with a donation of over $2,000 in medical supplies and training aids thanks to funding from a Homeland Security Grant coordinated by the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services.

“We are so thankful for this donation,” says Nevada County Schools Superintendent Scott Lay. “Our students really benefit from the Teen CERT program and we are glad to see joint support for this program from the County. With the many threats we face I feel better knowing we have student volunteers in place that are properly trained and equipped should the worst occur on one of our campuses.”

“In spite of COVID, we can’t forget that one of the greatest threats we face in our community is wildfire,” says Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager, Paul Cummings. “Our office is using this time to focus the community on the “Ready” phase of Ready, Set, Go and we want to do everything we can to make sure all our partners are ready. This is a good time to get your defensible space, check your go bag, and refresh your family’s evacuation plans. Teens can play an important role in all phases of Ready Nevada County. Their energy and enthusiasm are a natural resource we hope to continue to tap into as wildfire season progresses.”

The Nevada County Office of Emergency Services supports many County and Municipal Fire, Law and Public Health agencies with the management of an annual allocation through the Homeland Security Grant Program. These funds support large strategic purchases and training that focus on an all-hazards and multi-jurisdictional benefit.