• McDaniel Students to the Rescue

    In a dark corner of a dilapidated house, several young people work together to locate a baby in distress. A few hundred feet away, a second group uses cribbing techniques to free a man from a 2,000-pound slab of concrete. Nearby, a third learns how to use a multi-tool to turn off a leaking gas line.

    Thankfully, none of it – the ailing baby, the crushed man, the gas leak – was real. Rather, each scenario was part of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training for students from Darshanpreet Gill’s biomedical innovations class.

    The training, which also included hands-on lessons on fire suppression and medical triage, took place on the campus of Portland Fire and Rescue’s Training Facility. The day-long field exercise ended with students receiving a certificate marking their completion of the program. They were also given the option to become a Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) member.

    “It’s a good real-life experience,” said senior Luca Schroeder, adjusting his new red hard hat. “All the things we’re encountering today could happen in the real world, and now we’ll know how to respond.”

    It’s Gill’s hope that, in addition to preparing her students for real-time, life-and-death scenarios, the training might even spur some of them to consider a career in the medical or emergency response fields, both of which, she said, could benefit from greater diversity.

    “I’ve been a volunteer patient in this training and the people treating me were older and white. It’s really important in an emergency or disaster situation that the people helping look like the people in need. When we have more first responders who come from the communities they’re serving – and ones who speak multiple languages – everyone is safer.”

    Glenn Devitt, a coordinator for Portland Bureau Emergency Management’s NET and a teen CERT instructor, said young people invariably make excellent first responders.


    “I learn so much from them,” he said. “They have great ideas and they’re not constrained by preconceived notions of how things should be done. They’re innovative and they bring an energy and collaborative spirit to everything they do.”


    They’re also clear-eyed realists.


    “It’s really good to know this stuff,” said senior Jennifer Nguyen, who was waiting her turn as part of a search-and-rescue drill. “Because, you know, the big one is coming.”