Pinellas Park, Florida -- Four years of studying all aspects of disaster response culminated in the first "Disaster Day" exercise on Tuesday for the first senior class of the First Responders program at Pinellas Park High School.

The drill -- fully planned by the students -- involved a pretend scenario where students triaged, treated, and performed a multitude of various exercises such as search and rescue, technical decontamination, and fire fighting skills.

Local emergency response agencies such as the county's Emergency Management department and the American Red Cross were on hand as volunteers in the drill. Students directed the emergency response with volunteers and other students acting as victims.

Through the four-year experiential program the students have learned about how emergency planning, volunteerism, medical response, communications, the National Incident Management System (NIMS), homeland security, public health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other topics relate to the field of disaster and emergency response.

Students leave the program with Emergency Medical Responder certification and NIMS certificates.

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