Red Cross youth volunteers train 'superheroes'

By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Public AffairsSeptember 30, 2013

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Red Cross Heroes
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HOHENFELS, Germany -- As part of September's National Preparedness Month, Hohenfels' American Red Cross youth volunteers staged their first ever 'youth' event here, recently, an interactive presentation instructing children on how to respond in the event of an emergency.

"Lifesavers: Be Your Family's Superhero" featured safety and preparedness tips for disasters, power outages, first aid and more aimed at children grades 1-8.

"I know a lot of kids haven't been educated about disasters and what to do in an emergency, even something as simple as calling 9-1-1, which is different in Germany, or what to do when they're bleeding," said 17-year-old Trevor Tufts, Hohenfels American Red Cross youth chairman. "They need to be prepared."

Tufts designed the general concept of the various stations, and then called on the other youth volunteers for ideas on how to implement them.

"They started planning this before school even started (Aug. 26) and for the past three weeks have been meeting during lunches to create this," said Sandy Mama, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels American Red Cross assistant station manager.

"Trevor had the different stations in mind that he wanted and then we had to come up with a way to present the ideas in a manner the kids could understand and remember," said 16-year-old Chloe Holland.

Getting them to understand and remember involved getting them engaged and active. Each station featured a brief lecture followed by a game that helped drill in the new skills.

At the fire prevention station, children learned about smoke alarms and various tips to avoid an accidental fire, such as cooking safely and keeping items away from space heaters. They also learned to create a fire escape plan, and what to do if they are caught in a fire and find their clothes on fire.

"We had them practice 'Stop, Drop and Roll,' said Loraine Roberts, indicating a gym mat flanked with cones and disaster tape. "Then they had to cover their faces and pretend the tape was smoke and crawl out of it."

Another station identified items one might need during a power outage, such as a flashlight and a first aid kit, as well as items that should be avoided, such as refrigerated items that may have spoiled.

Afterward, children took turns reaching into a box and trying to determine what various items were by touch.

"It's going to be dark in the house and you won't be able to see so you have to try and determine what you're feeling, and if it's something you need during a power outage," explained 13-year-old Chloe Witty.

Patrick Williams, also 13, advised children on what they might need in a disaster supply kit, such as water, flashlights, personal documents and tools. Children then got a chance to put their knowledge to the test by rummaging through a pile of household goods and selecting items for their emergency kit.

"They're doing pretty well, except for the laptop," laughed 15-year-old Jadyn Tyler. "They're all grabbing that."

Lara Clagett, Army Community Service Mobilization and Deployment program manager, familiarized children with the local emergency phone numbers and handed out refrigerator magnets emblazoned with them.

"There are actually four emergency numbers to dial here in Germany," Clagett said. "We're asking them to go home and practice with their parents. This event is important because kids need to be prepared in the event that an emergency occurs. We have lots of evidence of situations where kids were the heroes because they made that call when their parents weren't conscious."

Tufts may be recruiting the next generation of youth volunteers as he explained to children how the Red Cross helps people during such disasters as Hurricane Sandy or the recent floods in Colorado.

The combination of fun and facts seemed to work as children competed in a quiz round for prizes at the end of the event and hands shot up in quick response to questions, such as what to do if you cut yourself.

"Clean it, put pressure on it, and bandage it," answered fifth-grader Andy Reeves.

"I learned all the stuff you have to get for an emergency kit," said 9-year-old Brandon Dostie, adding that the first thing he would pack is food.

The children weren't the only community members to benefit from the event. The 14 youth volunteers also learned a great deal by participating in various Red Cross classes such as CPR and the disaster training course.

"We also did a lot of research to get this event to where it is now," said Tuft. "I think we all benefited because now we are better prepared in case an emergency does happen."