At Wildwood Elementary School in Yucaipa, on Saturday, Feb. 3, 28 employees of the Yucaipa Calimesa Joint Unified School District (YCJUSD) completed their 20 hours of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.

“I have been out here helping the school district train and I am very impressed with the job they are doing,” said Sherrie O’Connell, the city of Yucaipa’s Assistant Coordinator.

CERT training is done over a 20-hour period and consists of disaster preparedness, fire safety and utility controls, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, organization, disaster psychology and terrorism training. According to the city of Yucaipa’s website, “Through a number of hands-on training sessions one receives training in needed life saving skills with emphasis on decision making, rescuer safety and doing the greatest good for the greatest number.”

During training on Feb. 3, Yucaipa High Schools Law and Public Safety Academy students, volunteered to be “victims” for employees in a disaster scenario drill. In the multi-purpose room at Wildwood Elementary, tables were displaced, chairs knocked over and academy students covered in fake blood and bruises were scattered around. The lights went out, alarms began to sound off and kids started screaming for help as sets of disaster crewmembers filed in to assess the mock situation. Staff members found children and began to tag them based on the seriousness of their injuries. A green tag meant that the injury was only minor with a yellow tag meaning injuries need attention but are not life threatening and a red tag means critical and needs immediate attention.

A Yucaipa High School Coach said, “This is a great experience for teachers and also for our students. They can see and learn how chaotic a real situation can be. Our hope is to have a student disaster team on campus at the high school.”

Outside the multi-purpose room team members worked to assess the situation as well. Tarps were laid out, color coordinated with the tags so that the injured could be placed and helped in order of need.

“From a principal perspective, student and staff safety weighs heavy on us. The more we know the more prepared we can be,” said Dunlap Elementary School Principal Lindy Ward.

The city of Yucaipa offers CERT training twice a year. For more information about this training, call the city at 797-2489, ext. 221 or email Kim Everts at


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