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West Fargo students get trauma training

Shrill screams and frantic cries erupted from the school bus outside West Fargo High School as 16 students in yellow vests scrambled outside to help.

CERT students remove mock victim
Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) students Kaylah Eidum, left, and Amber Colombo carry mock victim Caitlin Leick away from the staged crash site Monday morning at West Fargo High School. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Shrill screams and frantic cries erupted from the school bus outside West Fargo High School as 16 students in yellow vests scrambled outside to help.

While the mock bus crash was only a test for these teens, serious expressions took over as they set out to work a drill that mirrored reality.

"We need to get you out of here," sophomore Jeremy Lafromboise said, carrying a screaming, bloody, shoeless student from the bus as other drama students sat crying, screaming or slumped motionless over bus seats.

The mock disaster on Monday was a dramatic final exam for the West Fargo students' emergency preparedness health class.

"They're taking it very seriously, which is why they're nervous," teacher Marilyn Laliberte said. "It's a big day."

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A big day all the more because these students are the first in the state to participate in the Teen Community Emergency Response Team program, which West Fargo piloted this year.

"It's a big deal to be the first class to be certified," Laliberte said.

The program is organized by FirstLink, which coordinates CERT programs in Cass and Clay Counties, and Carol Cwiak's North Dakota State University emergency management class.

"It's very chaotic," Cwiak said, observing the students. "It's really a daunting situation, but they're getting into it as they go along."

As police officers pulled up to take over the drill, the high school sophomores and juniors breathed a sigh of relief as their memorable, high-adrenaline lesson came to a close.

"It was interesting ... kind of overwhelming," Lafromboise said, adding that while it helped prepare them for real-world situations, he'd prefer not to relive his first-responder role. "But if it comes down to it, I'd be able to."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

Related Topics: WEST FARGO
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