By Jennifer Torres, Class of 2026

During the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet several new people. Each interview has been different and has enabled me to learn something new about my community. For example, I have learned about the opportunities and resources available to help community members. These resources include free courses that help train people for emergency situations. CERT, Stop the Bleed, and STEAR are free resources available to the public that most people are unaware of within my community. As I learned more about these opportunities, I adjusted some of the questions I was asking during my interviews.

To find out if people knew about the resources available to them, I included questions like “Are you prepared for a natural disaster?”, “Have you heard about CERT?”, and “Do you know about the resources available to you within the community?”. Most of the people that I have interviewed who are not elected leaders or certified trainers do not know about these resources. Out of the three resources, most people know about STEAR, with the second-most recognized being CERT. All three of the resources are free, and only two of the resources require people to make time to obtain certification.

STEAR stands for State of Texas Emergency Assisted Registry. The program is a free registry that helps local emergency planners and responders be prepared to serve the needs of the community when an emergency event occurs. This program is specifically aimed to help people with needs. According to the TDEM website, people who have disabilities, are medically fragile, have limited mobility, possess communication barriers, or require additional medical, transportation, or personal care assistance during emergency events should register for this program. The registration process is not difficult. A person can register online, via phone, or by filling out a physical form. Participation is voluntary, and while does not guarantee that an individual will receive assistance during an emergency event, it could be a valuable lifeline.

CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, and it is a nationwide program. People who join are recruited to then be volunteers in case of a disaster. The Homeland Preparedness Project offers this free course to people in my community. Certified and trained instructors teach the entire course; at the end of the course, students participate in a practice drill to obtain their certification. They are trained to be prepared for multiple types of situations, and these situations can vary from a natural disaster to a car accident. Volunteers are taught the basic skills needed to survive, and they help empower their fellow community members. People of all ages can participate in CERT. During high school, I participated in the program and obtained certification. The course taught me many valuable skills that I can use to help not only others but myself as well. I learned about rescue training, team organization skills, basic medical response actions, and how to use a fire extinguisher. This is an amazing course that I recommend people take if they have time. You will never forget the information you learn.

Another course that I recommend is Stop the Bleed. This is a short course that can also save the lives of others. I especially endorse Stop the Bleed to people who are interested in the medical field. This course teaches people how to treat wounds and stop severe blood loss. Students get hands-on experience with stopping a bleed on simulators, and they have a chance to see fake blood and use the techniques taught to stop and dress a wound properly. In addition, students are taught how to use the things around them as well as a tourniquet. Most Stop the Bleed courses are free, however this could vary for some.

Both CERT and Stop the Bleed are life-saving courses that teach important life lessons. By educating people how to act during crucial times, they inspire communities to come together. Even just taking one course can make a difference when trying to save a life. Emergency situations can happen at any time or place. To obtain these certifications, all you need to do is sign up and complete the courses.

Resources for STEAR, CERT, and Stop the Bleed:

Read Jennifer’s first blog post here.

To learn more about this project and see more student and researcher’s blog posts, click here.