At the end of the program, the teachers will become members of the Community Emergency Response Team, which has a certification based on a set of national standards, preparing the group to aid emergency workers during any disaster operation, said Tanya Gregorian, public education coordinator for the Glendale Fire Department.
“The education that they’re getting here today is important, especially for teachers,” Gregorian said. “What better group to train than the educators?”
Community members who have learned similar skills at training programs nationwide can often be important contributors to disaster relief, Glendale Battalion Chief Greg Godfrey said.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department turned to members of local response teams for help during a fire in Sylmar in 2008, with 10 graduates of Glendale’s training program participating in relief efforts there, Godfrey said.
The Red Cross also turned to response team members last year when a hurricane made landfall in Galveston, Texas, with two Glendale residents participating in that relief operation after taking lessons here, he said.
Glendale Fire officials regularly teach the same material in a free course offered to the public on Thursday nights, Gregorian said.
The city contributes $45,000 to pay for the classes, which have trained more than 300 people, with another 400 scheduled to attend the sessions this year, fire officials said.
The training program can make a big difference in providing extra relief workers after an earthquake, fire, or other disaster, Gregorian said.
“We don’t have enough firefighters to take care of everybody,” she said. “In the case of a disaster, we’re going to need help.”
Teachers on Wednesday had fun with some of the activities, particularly when a hard hat fell off participant Ani Misserlian’s head as she tried to spray a fire extinguisher at a propane-fueled blaze.
She eventually succeeded, after an outburst of laughter dominated the playground.
““I have [a fire extinguisher] at home, and I’m not using it, so I don’t have any idea how it could open,” she said of removing a safety pin from the unit.
Teachers came from different schools of the Western Prelacy Armenian Preschool group, with teachers coming from campuses in Pasadena, Hollywood, Glendale and North Hills.
The schools decided to dedicate two full training days for the emergency-preparedness exercises to help keep the teachers on top of their safety skills, said Arsine Aghazarian, principal of St. Mary’s Tufenkian Armenian Preschool.
ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@ latimes.com.