Student leadership both in and out of the classroom continues to be on the rise at The Episcopal School of Dallas. Upper School science and engineering teacher Barton Burnett recently formed a new Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) comprised of both students and teachers. This team is not a first response team but will serve as backup support for trained emergency personnel who already present. Both students and teachers in CERT will support ESD in hosting multi-athletic/leadership events with multiple schools, as well as help provide general school information requests, miscellaneous visitor support, and assist with minor first aid requests. Director of Campus Security Jody Trumble agreed to the group’s formation due to the large numbers of people on campus.
According to the CERT project’s website, “The CERT course will benefit any citizen who takes it. This individual will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster… [it] furthers the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster. It also increases their ability to safely help themselves, their families and their neighbors.”
Barton Burnett is the CERT team leader, overseeing the student team members and reports directly to Trumble. “While having teenagers trained as members of Community Emergency Response Team for their schools and communities is a growing nationwide trend, this is a very new concept for ESD,” Burnett said. “So far we have six students and three teachers already trained. We hope to have an additional four students and four adults trained before the school year is over.” The existing student members are Ford Bannister, Chris Hess, Gabe Letcher, Sam Lindsey, Lilly Lutz, Ava Thompson; Laura Talbot and Laura Gomez are the faculty members. Since the current students are all juniors, Burnett is looking forward to having their experience onboard for next year.
Students have already received training for mass emergencies and have the necessary safety equipment and basic first aid supplies. Each student has an emergency back with safety gear, basic tools, first aid kit, a green t-shirt with gold lettering, and matching ball cap so they can switch into "uniform" in an emergency. Student backpacks are kept in a central location, while teachers’ are kept with them. Students and teachers are trained by CERT instructors from Best Southwest Regional CERT out of the Duncanville area as well as local fire departments following Federal Guidelines.
Thus far, the team has participated in three fire drills this year and even had a four-person team practice during a weekend athletic event. Burnett and Trumble continue to have conversations on how to fully and safely integrate this new resource for our campus, but are pleased with the group’s initial performances.