Fifty local high school Health Science students marked FEMA’s first National Day of Action by touring FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Ala., April 30.

The students, all Oxford (Ala.) High School seniors, are already certified in first aid and healthcare-provider CPR and most of the students are pursuing careers in healthcare.

“Our goal is to make our students college- and career-ready by exposing them to a variety of healthcare-related jobs,” said Oxford High School Health Science teacher, Amy McCorkle.

The students toured the center in three small groups that enabled them to get a closer look at how the CDP’s instructors train state, local and tribal emergency responders and receivers. During the tour, the students visited the CDP’s Advanced Responder Training Complex (ARTC) and the Noble Training Facility. The ARTC is one of the CDP’s main training venues, a massive complex at which emergency responders training at the center. The ARTC’s training venues include an industrial park complex and an indoor street scene that simulates a suburban community street with shops and cafes. The street scene links to another realistic training venue, the simulated subway.

At the Noble Training Facility, the students toured the only the emergency operations center and emergency department at the only hospital facility in the United States dedicated solely to training hospital and healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response. The youth took a great interest in the human-patient simulators the CDP uses to simulate patients in the emergency department as well as other aspects of training.

“… simulators are used to assist with training throughout the country and we want our students to see the value of using technology to enhance learning by simulating real-world situations,” McCorkle said. During the tour, the students interacted with the simulators, giving the “patients” medication and then observing the “patient’s” vital signs to see how she would react and performing CPR when the patient flat-lined. The CDP employs more than 40 human-patient simulators to train emergency responders.

“Our tour of FEMA was great. It has so many different scenarios that can happen in everyday life and members train to know what needs to be done when the situation happens,” said Aaron Vaughn, a senior at Oxford High School, who plan to pursue a career as a physical therapist. “It is a very nice facility and it’s just good to know that we have people who are well trained and can help when disaster strikes.”

“Seeing the disaster scenes made it more realistic than just talking about it during class,” said Whitney Hugley, who is also a senior.

The students are also enrolled in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training, a program designed to train citizens on how they can best survive a disaster until emergency services can arrive.

“CERT training helps citizens be better prepared to protect their families and community in the event of a disaster,” said Calhoun County (Ala.) Emergency Management Agency Director, Jonathan Gaddy.