CLEARWATER, Fla. - At the end of October, students at Clearwater Academy International will participate in the World Rescue Challenge, hosted by Clearwater this year.
They're "CERT" trained, a FEMA program which stands for "Community Emergency Response Team."
"We're here to help! If you can hear me, come to the sound of my voice!" screamed 17-year-old Trisha Hawley.
Hawley participated in CERT training Wednesday morning with a simulated tornado disaster zone. Not unrealistic for Hawley, who was 9-years old when Hurricane Wilma hit Broward County.
"We didn't have power for 11 days," she remembered. "It was such a huge disaster."
Her family left the devastation behind and eventually moved to Clearwater, where her high school, Clearwater Academy International, is the first in the city to train students in CERT.
"My purpose was to give these guys the skills to know what to do and effectively respond during a disaster," explaiend John Buell.
Students assess the situation, create a plan, triage the wounded, and most importantly, learn how to keep from becoming victims themselves.
"It teaches them how to be safe. That's the main point of the CERT program," Buell said.
"This gets them out of their comfort zone, gets them out of their book learning, and into real practical scenarios where they have to take charge," explained Headmaster Jim Zwer.
Learning to save others lives changed Hawley's life. Once scared of images like the ones she sees in her CERT training which remind her of the chaos of her childhood memories.
"If something were to happen, I could be the one who is the leader. I can help and make a difference," she said.
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