By Lily Criswell and Tracy Truong
Imagine this – you're in the middle of a natural disaster. Not as a victim, but as a part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Your local team was dispatched to a flood. You have limited information but know it's a mass casualty incident, and at least a hundred people must be rapidly triaged and extricated from multiple buildings.
Reagan Wiedenfeld couldn't imagine this for herself either.
During freshman year Reagan didn’t know what she wanted her career to look like. Initially, she planned to major in political science but then was introduced to CERT through an after-school class traditionally taught by an MMACHS upperclassman.
At the time, Brooklyn Browne (Class of '21) was teaching the class, but when she graduated the role was left vacant. With no one to teach the class, Reagan spoke to Mrs. Staub, who is currently the CTE Administrator. It was Mrs. Staub who guided Reagan toward the CERT path by encouraging her to teach the class.
Even though it was something she didn’t expect to do, Reagan feels that “teaching CERT has been really rewarding.”
“[Reagan] kind of took that ball and ran with it. CERT has really spoken to her and she's done a fantastic job of passing that message on to future generations. I am truly in awe of her energy and talent and grateful for her willingness to be a part of it,” said Mrs. Staub. “She has been instrumental in growing our HOSA CERT team numbers.”
Today, Reagan is a part of the Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The YPC is made up of students in grades 8-12 that are passionate about emergency management. During monthly meetings, students have the opportunity to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Reagan's role in the council is to educate those interested in CERT to create a well-rounded team that is ready to serve the community in times of crisis. Her teaching efforts will be recognized in the April National FEMA Spotlight Newsletter.
CERT has truly impacted Reagan when it comes to her confidence as an individual and her classes at MMACHS.
“I really love that CERT was an intro to healthcare for me. A lot of the skills that I did in EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and lifeguarding started at CERT. It's a really good base – you learn how to apply pressure to bleeding, learn how to splint, and learn proper body mechanics. Taking those lessons into other classes like health professions allows you to think through things more [confidently],” said Reagan.
She believes that “It's worth putting the extra time into.” Those who want to join should “...just put [their] heart into it. If you don't feel passionate about it, don't do it because it's such an important program to be taught right. Give it your all.”