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Taking the HEAT

Jennifer Woolley, assistant professor of management, had a very good excuse for postponing the class she was supposed to teach the first Saturday in February—she was putting out a fire.

Dousing the flames with a fire extinguisher was one of the hands-on exercises in the 20-hour disaster preparedness course dubbed HEAT (Home Emergency Assistance Teams) that she, her husband, and a dozen other SCU faculty, staff, students, and their significant others took. “In the past, I didn’t know how powerful a fire extinguisher was or how it operates,” Woolley said. “The hands-on training helped me put all of the different pieces together. It gave me a better sense of things that I can actually do in case of an emergency.”

Since its inception by the city of Santa Clara in 1995, more than 2,000 city residents have gone through the HEAT training, an official Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, according to Bill Kelly, a deputy fire chief with the Santa Clara Fire Department.

HEAT gives participants practical training in how to be self-sufficient and do the most good for the most people in the event of a large-scale disaster, since emergency services are likely to be overwhelmed and unable to reach all the victims immediately.

“We teach them such things as first aid, some basic fire-fighting, some basic light rescue ... how to use lumber and things to pry heavy objects off people, how to shut off gas utilities, and make structures safe,” Kelly explained.

In the event of an on-campus emergency, one of the likely first-responders will be SCU EMT Kelsey Brunts. The sophomore in biomedical engineering took the HEAT classes to round out her medical training. “I had never even held a fire extinguisher before, much less pulled the pin and put a fire out,” she said. “And the markings to make on a building when you enter it, and how to lift heavy objects off a person wasn’t covered in the EMT class, so I thought this was a really good supplement.”

This is the second time SCU has partnered with the city of Santa Clara to offer the HEAT program on campus and it won’t be the last, said Mike Taheny, SCU emergency planning manager. “To me, this training fits with the Jesuit concept of education—to develop men and women for other,” he said. “The more of our community at all levels that we help prepare, the better off the entire University and the surrounding community will be.”

For more information about upcoming HEAT classes, visit the City of Santa Clara HEAT website.

Click here to view a slideshow of the event.

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