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Teen youngest to join CERT
4 CERT pic
Jeff Fedoruk, left, prepares for a search and rescue simulation Saturday at Dawson County Station 7. His father, Dennis Fedoruk, right, also completed CERT training on Saturday. - photo by Photo/Michele Hester

Saturday was an average day for Dawson County High School junior Jeff Fedoruk.


The 16-year-old awoke early to a distress call on Dawson Forest Road before arriving at the site, putting out a fire and rescuing several people from a building.


While just a training exercise, Fedoruk is ready in the event of a true emergency.


The teen is one of the newest — and by many years, the youngest — members of the county’s Community Emergency Response Team.


Team members serve as volunteer backup for emergency services personnel. Among other activities, they are trained in basic fire safety, finding lost people, land navigation techniques and emergency preparedness.


Fedoruk graduated Saturday after completing the some 20-hour course and participating in the mock search-and-rescue sequence at Fire Station 7.


“The average age is what ... about 60,” said Wayne Watkins, a veteran CERT member, who helped conduct the training exercise. “It would be great to have a dozen more like him.”


Fedoruk became involved with the group at the urging of his father, Dennis, who along with about a dozen other volunteers also earned his certification Saturday.


“My dad was real interested in getting involved in the community and after hearing about the search and rescue they were teaching, I thought it would be a good opportunity,” said the younger Fedoruk.


He encouraged other young people to stop depending on adults to make a difference in the world.


 “I want young people to stop sitting back and quit being like the rest,” he said. “Most teens leave everything to the adults to handle.”


For the first time in several years, the team was able to use the county’s new fire training tower at Station 7 for Saturday’s exercise.


Watkins said the tower is a valuable training tool for response team members, who last year helped with several search-and-rescue operations. The group, made up of more than 60 volunteers, also provided  emergency preparedness education throughout the community.


E-mail Michele Hester at