Teens ready to respond

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Laura Kawamura, one of the Teen CERT instructors, demonstrates fire suppression with the help of Kauai Fire Dept.’s Jason Koloa as students Kai Mottley, Nathan Marvoish, Benjamin Petterson, Maluhia Hayward, Gabe Cerni, Michael Perales, Connor Marovish, Bill Lin and Olivia Kelekoma look on.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Bill Lin gets back up from Olivia Kelekoma in a fire suppression exercise during the Teen CERT training program.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Teen CERT team including Benjamin Petterson, Kai Mottley, Gabe Cerni, Connor Marovish, Nathan Marovish, Maluhia Hayward, Michael Perales, Olivia Kelekoma, and Bill Lin wait on Kauai fire fighters to ready the fire suppression exercise.

LIHUE — Connor Marovish worked alongside his father, distributing water for several weeks following the flooding from record-breaking rains in April, said Laura Kawamura of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

“There are so many jobs in disaster response,” Kawamura said. “These are vital to the success of response — even a task of just distributing water.”

Connor and his brother Nathan were part of the nine teen students who recently completed the three-day MyPI, or Hawaii Youth Preparedness Initiative, Teen Community Emergency Response Team training.

“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Kauai Fire Chief Robert Westerman.

Working with the Kauai Fire CERT coordinators, the students worked through the Federal Emergency Management Agency curriculum that included disaster preparedness, fire safety and suppression, disaster medical ops and injury treatment.

“We were able to work with our Kauai Police Department partners and the American Medical Response to give these students a touch of career day,” said Jason Poloa, the Kauai Fire Dept. CERT coordinator.

Some of the MyPI goals help teens build life saving skill sets, give back to their communities, become empowered and identify hazards.

“Students came from Princeville to Kalaheo — all over,” Kawamura said. “We were speaking with the Boy Scouts of America in training some of their scouts to be Teen CERT members, but the class conflicted with their annual summer camp in Kokee.”

Connor said learning more about natural disasters motivated him and his brother to register for the free class that centered around the state building.

“My mother signed me up,” said Gabe Cerni, one of the MyPI graduates. “But I wanted to learn more about the different hazards and fire safety, and how to help keep my family and friends safe.”

Successful Teen CERT members include Connor and Nathan Marovisch, Cerni, Bill Lin, Olivia Kelekoma — the sole girl in the class — Michael Perales, Benjamin Petterson, Maluhia Hayward, and Kai Mottley. They each received a graduation certificate and a free backpack response kit, including the familiar CERT green safety helmet and vest.

“These are the newest CERT team members,” said Kawamura. “They are ready to be activated in times of need by Poloa. They don’t just jump in — they need to wait for activation. But they are ready to work with the community. They are the future adult CERT force.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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