FHS teens respond when disaster strikes


Thomas Smith

Members of the Dodge County Teen CERT put the skills they used to use in their training exercise.

Fremont High School students work on expanding their extracurriculars outside of the ones provided at school.

FHS junior Heather Smith is involved with a student-run organization and she is the founder along with her dad, Thomas Smith, who is the Dodge County Emergency Manager.

I am a part of the Dodge County Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT),” Smith said. “The organization helps teens learn how to help their communities and save lives in case there is a disaster.”

Smith held the first meeting for the organization back in June 2021. They have had monthly meetings since then. 

“I decided to found it mainly because of my dad, but I also felt it was important for teenagers to learn how to save lives,” Smith said. “Teen CERT training can be used not just for disasters, but for everyday life too. You never know when you will witness an accident while you’re driving, or you may have a relative experience a bad cut while making dinner. It’s important for teens to have that training because you never know when you have to save someone.”

FHS junior Armando Monarrez is also a member of Teen CERT. 

Teen CERT meets at many different locations,” Monarrez said. “You first go through a 3-day training where they teach you the basics. Then at the end, you do a simulation with all the components. After the 3-day training, each month we meet at various locations throughout the community. This month, we’re actually going to the public health department.”

Smith goes in-depth about the specifics of Teen CERT members’ training. 

Teen CERT helps teenagers in the community be able to help out around their community when a disaster strikes before professionals arrive,” Smith said. “In the training classes, some of the things that are taught are learning how to use a fire extinguisher, performing carries and lifts, search and rescue, and performing medical treatment and assessments. In our monthly meetings, we do a variety of things, mainly to learn about different careers in the community that go with emergency management. We have visited the fire station, police department, and Three Rivers, along with the Red Cross coming to talk to the group.”

Smith and Monarrez know the drill when they are called upon to help serve the community.  

Teen CERT is designed to help out the community during a disaster,” Monarrez said. “If I get a text or call from our leader (Tom Smith) then I would be called to action. I would help the wounded and treat victims in triages (temporary treatment tent) or I would help find victims within destroyed homes, and bring them to safety.”

Monarrez sees ways that his membership in the organization can help him look toward his future career while helping people around him.

I joined because I want to better the community with my help,” Monarrez said. “I also am interested in going into the medical field and this is just a preview.”

Teen CERT currently has 11 members. They had five in the first training class and six in the second. Members don’t just have to be from Fremont, they can be from any of the schools in the Dodge County area.

“The organization is designed to benefit everyone,” Smith said. “It helps teens learn essential skills that they can use anytime. You never know when you have to save a life. It also helps save community members in a disaster.”