MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – First responders need all the help they can get with Hurricane Ian — and a Middletown high school is answering the call.
A unique team of students from Vinal Technical High School’s criminal justice class is providing critical, lifesaving information to crews in the eye of the storm.
In a $40,000 emergency operations center, students are scouring the internet for the latest updates about power outages, hospital closures, evacuation patterns and flooding in Cape Coral, Florida.
Sophomore Ben Flecther is on the intelligence team locating hospitals and clinics on maps for responders to refer to.
“You could be going into a city, and you don’t know where anything is, and you could just be looking around all day for a hospital and you have patients that need help,” he said.
The students will condense all this information into daily 26-page reports and send them to first responders.
One of those first responders is their teacher, David Cruickshank, who is heading south later this week with the Connecticut Disaster and Medical Assistance Team. The class will spend the next two weeks creating these reports and sending updates to their teacher.
“Things are on the internet before they are anywhere else. And let’s face it, students are tech-savvy,” Cruickshank said. “Their information saves us countless hours where we can go to work immediately.”
Students have thought of resources the average person wouldn’t think responders would need during a catastrophic event. Bella Battista compiled a list of registered sex offenders in the Cape Coral area for officials to be aware of.
“There’s a lot of people who are evacuating and some people are evacuating to high schools, elementary schools,” she said. “Knowing the more dangerous people will help to keep everyone safe and secure.”
Even on a school night, students say they’re happy to work because they’re making an impact.
“You don’t feel like you’re doing anything all day in normal school but now you feel like you’re making a difference, you’re actually helping people in real life,” Fletcher said.