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Oct. 13, 2004
CONTACT: Ward Mullens

EMU joins forces with Michigan Citizens Corps to help train high school students to be first-responders

YPSILANTIThe recent revelation that information about Michigan high schools, along with schools in five other states, was found on a laptop computer in Iraq has heightened safety concerns at high schools around the state.

The recent deaths of hundreds of students in a school attack in Russia is another chilling reminder that bad things can happen just about anywhere.

While no one may be able to stop a terrorist attack or other emergency, Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Regional and National Security, and the Michigan Citizens Corps are joining forces to train high school students how to be first responders in the event of an emergency on their campus.

“In an emergency, 95 percent of the time a bystander or victim is the first to provide emergency assistance or rescue,” said Gary Zulinski, program coordinator for the Michigan Citizens Corps. “Having students and teachers trained will help save lives in the event of an emergency.”

“The program is called the School Emergency Response Training Program or SERT,” said Gerald “Skip” Lawver, director of EMU’s Center for Regional and National Security.  “This program is intermediate level training designed for young adults between the ages of 13 and 18.”

Lawver said the program will cover the areas of disaster management, fire safety and basic fire combating techniques; recognizing injuries and basic first aid, CPR, basic team building emergency communications, psychological trauma and terrorism awareness. 

Milan High School, which has about 750 students, is the first area school to take advantage of Teen SERT. The course will be delivered at Milan High School during normal school hours.

“We have great confidence in our teenagers and feel that they have the ability to be a vital part of continuing to make our schools safe,” said Leanna Soltis, assistant principal at Milan High School.

“This also give students who are looking at these areas as a career choice the opportunity to see if it’s something they want to pursue,” said Soltis, who hopes to have about 30 students go through the program.

Lawver said emergency management students who are certified instructors and have completed a train-the-trainer course will deliver the Teen SERT program at high schools.

  Teen SERT is part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program which provides special training to enhance ability to assist emergency responders. CERT is organized under the Michigan Citizens Corps with instructional and operational support provided by National Citizen Corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“We all have a role in hometown security,” said Zulinski. “Michigan Citizen Corps asks everyone to embrace the personal responsibility to be prepared; to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders,  disaster relief and community safety.”

“Our children are our most critical resource and their safety at home and school should be one of our highest priorities,” Lawver said. “SERT will better prepare our students to address the issue of disaster preparation and response should our homes or schools become victimized by a natural or technical disaster.”


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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