There are few training programs in which volunteers, both teen and adult, are so enthusiastic about taking an emergency response and preparedness course. One local program has crushed the notion that safety education is boring – and currently has a three-year backlog of requests for training.
The Mid America Teen Community Emergency Response Team (TEEN CERT), a.k.a. MATC, is the most active CERT training program in Missouri and third most popular CERT program in the country. Church groups, school districts, special needs groups, businesses and other groups and organizations – within the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area as well as other counties and states – request the training months in advance.
The main goal of the TEEN CERT program is to help youth and adult citizens learn how to prepare for and respond to others in need, and do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves or others in unnecessary danger. Students learn to provide basic medical aid, search for and rescue victims safely, manage utilities and put out small fires, organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.
One of the aspects that make MATC unique from other CERT training programs, is that embedded within the standard curriculum, are the requirements for several Boy Scout and Girl Scout merit and interest project badges. For example, in addition to a Boy Scout receiving the state-issued TEEN CERT certificate of program completion, they have the opportunity to earn their Emergency Preparedness, First Aid, Fire Safety, Safety, and Disabilities Awareness merit badges (the Search and Rescue merit badge is pending incorporation of requirements). Girl Scouts can earn interest project badges in Emergency Preparedness, Outdoor Survival, Backpacking, and Camping.
With the help of paramedics, firefighters, doctors, police officers, crisis counselors, and other qualified instructors and professionals, the program teaches medical, fire safety, search and rescue, and psychology. The specialized training provides students the skills necessary to perform under pressure by developing multi-functional response teams that supplement community emergency services during major disasters.
Even though MATC is based in the St. Charles County area, the program actually travels to any location where they are requested. Because of the program’s popularity, especially with organized groups and organizations, extra dates need to be set aside early to accommodate classes for the general public. In 2013, MATC has six scheduled classes, with an additional three being planned. In addition to basic training, the program participates in numerous community events and activities, and has recently chartered Venture Crew 2633 with the Greater St. Louis Area Council.
In 2011, MATC was voted runner-up for FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Award in “Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness”. With nearly 600 members, the program is made up entirely of volunteer citizens. Mid America also participates in the Red Cross ‘Ready-Rating’ program, has adopted two roadways for picking up trash in Missouri’s ‘Adopt-A-Highway’ program and participates in several other non-emergency community projects.
Last year, Mid America TEEN CERT was approached by Monarch Fire Protection District and asked to take over the training and operations of their CERT program [existing Chesterfield CERT]. Arrangements are underway, and soon Ballwin, Chesterfield, Clarkson Valley, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Wildwood, and other areas within the District will be part of the Monarch – Mid America TEEN CERT/CERT program.
Since MATC’s inception in 2007, the program has operated entirely without a budget or funding. It did not qualify for state funding or grants because the program was not associated with any specific city or municipality. That said, the program has been free of charge to anyone wanting the training. The program is open to anyone 12 years and older, including adults. It is designed around the adult CERT course, but includes a great deal more information and emphasis on team building, trust and emotional health as well as a unit on people with functional and mobility special needs considerations.
For additional information on upcoming classes or questions, contact MATC Program Director, Mark Rosenblum at (314) 680-0791, firstname.lastname@example.org or online at https://midamericateencert.samariteam.com/. Individuals can also contact Monarch Fire Protection District at (314) 514-0900 or online at www.monarchfpd.org/.