Students prepare for "What If?"

Students prepare for "What If?"
(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Students across Greene County are spending their summer preparing for emergency situations.

There are 13 students who make up the Greene County Youth Preparedness Council.

Greene County Emergency Management Coordinator Erik Wright said Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and FEMA are leading the way in youth preparedness.

"We're showing high school students there is a whole world out there," Wright said. "We're showing them about disaster preparedness, disaster management, and volunteerism. It opens the world up to them. They're learning about law enforcement, fire and rescue and even more than that. They're learning about social work and anything that falls under the umbrella of disaster management."

Students spent Friday in an orientation at the Greene County Health Department.

Wright said youth preparedness is an initiative that is taking off around the world, but they want to localize it.

That's why these council students got an inside look of how things work from the experts.

"These students are being armed with a host of knowledge," Wright said. "They're listening to people from the National Weather Service, Paragould Police Department, Paragould Fire Department and even the FBI."

High school student and council member Hannah Weatherford said she decided she wanted to be a part of the program because she's interested in health promotions.

"I think it's really cool to learn about health services," Weatherford said. "I think you should also be educated on what to do during a crisis."

Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang was one of the featured speakers.

He said educating future generations is an investment.

"Bottom line is they're the future," Lang said. "They're the ones that are going to be taking care of us. I want them to be as informed as they can for their safety, for my safety and even for everybody around. I think it's important to give them as much information as we possibly can."

Lang spoke to them about the fire department's purpose, how they do their job and their interactions with other agencies, like the police department and other emergency responders.

Wright said it's students like this that will shape our future.

"These students are interested in learning how to better their community," Wright said. "Whether that's in the school, with families or with neighbors. We want these students to understand that we have local issues that they can face. Not just in disaster awareness, but in other things. For instance, starting a team in your school or helping your family and friends with a disaster plan."

Wright said he hoped by reaching these 13 students, the program will become something much larger of the next year.

The students are from Crowley's Ridge Academy, Greene County Tech and Marmaduke High School.

Any students interested in participating should let their school know and contact the Greene County Office of Emergency Management.

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