Bristol's emergency first responders teach students how to prepare for disasters

Published on Thursday, 28 March 2019 18:44


BRISTOL – Every spring, the city’s emergency first responders work with fifth graders to teach them emergency preparedness.

The Emergency Management Department, led by Director Harley Graime, works with volunteers from the city’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the police and fire departments to conduct the STEP (Student Tools for Emergency Planning) program in the public schools.

Now in its fourth year, STEP educates students about emergencies, such as house fires, and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods or blizzards. It teaches them the differences between disasters and emergencies in a fun, interactive environment with the opportunity to ask questions. Students are encouraged to take the information home to share with their families.

“Our visits to the fifth grade classes in each of the eight schools in Bristol reaches almost 600 students and gives us the opportunity to provide this valuable life-saving information to all Bristol families,” said Graime, who coordinates STEP through the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the Board of Education every year.

“It takes everyone - youth, family members, and the community - to help all of us be prepared in the event of a disaster or emergency,” he said.

STEP is a service provided at no cost by the Emergency Management Department and presented by CERT members using a series of lessons for each subject along with short videos to reinforce the material.

The materials for STEP are provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and include a manual with instructions on completing a family emergency communication plan and putting together a disaster supply kit. At the end of the presentation, each student gets a backpack to take home that includes a flashlight, whistle, and Mylar blanket.

Police officers and firefighters talk to the students about the importance of bringing home the information so they can develop their own family plan and disaster kit customized to their family’s needs.

The school district is pleased to work with CERT and city, state and federal first responders “to teach our students personal, home and school safety,” said Superintendent Susan Moreau. “It is never too early to learn and practice emergency preparedness.”

“[STEP] helps our fifth grade students to be more knowledgeable, capable, and prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster,” she continued. “Thanks to the STEP program curriculum, our students learn important elements of youth disaster preparedness and they are empowered to become positive influencers when they share their learning from the STEP program and help their families be better prepared.”

“We appreciate the Bristol CERT, as well as all of our local, state, and federal emergency responders and preparedness partners for your commitment to keep our Bristol Public Schools students and their families safe,” Moreau said.

STEP is available for anyone who lives or owns a business in Bristol. The content can be adapted and customized for any civic group, nonprofit organization or business in Bristol. For more information, call Graime at 860-866-7262.

For additional resources about what kinds of disasters or emergencies can affect our area and to help your family be prepared, visit , , , and .

The Emergency Management Department provides coordination of all paid and volunteer agencies associated with the City of Bristol in times of disaster. The director is responsible for the writing and implementation of the emergency plans for the city, keeping the city in compliance with state and federal guidelines and programs.

Bristol CERT is comprised of volunteers who are trained in basic life safety and emergency preparedness skills. The program is community based in order to provide rapid and safe care for residents and to provide support to the city’s emergency personnel in the event of a major incident or large scale disaster.

For more information, visit .

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Thursday, 28 March 2019 18:44. Updated: Thursday, 28 March 2019 18:47.