January 13, 2010 - The scene was chaotic. One man was screaming for help after cutting off half his leg in a construction accident.
A young woman arrived on site and became hysterical when she saw her brother's condition.
"I want my brother," 12-year-old Amanda Stanley screamed incessantly. "I want my brother!"
And that was just the beginning.
Two young women were trapped inside a smoke-filled room. Someone else was in the throes of a heart attack and needed CPR—fast. Another victim was bleeding profusely after a window shattered, and young man was suffering horrific pain from a broken shoulder. Yet another victim sustained severe electrical burns from live wires.
And then there was the car crash. And the injured driver. And the toddler, who wandered away from the accident scene, rolled down a snowy hill and broke her leg.
It all took place Dec. 12 at the Gingellville Early Childhood Center, and while each "accident" was set up to look and feel authentic—complete with painted-on wounds, flashing red lights and real-looking glass shards, just for starters— it was actually an Emergency Mobilization for the Boy Scouts of Troop 128.
The event is designed to give the scouts—who range from about 11 to 18 years old—the opportunity to respond to realistic emergency scenarios and put first-aid skills they've been learning into practice.
"You can read about CPR and you can practice, but until you're in the middle of that dark, noisy environment with people screaming, you just don't know how difficult it is," said Donna Davis-Daisley, the troop's Charter Organization Representative. "It's frightening, it's chaotic. The mobilization gives them the chance to put everything into practice."
And that practice, she said, gives the scouts the opportunity to realistically answer some questions: Can you remain calm, assess the situation, and determine whether it's safe to approach the victim? Can you do what needs to be done to assist until help arrives?
The scouts, who didn't know when the drill would take place until they were summoned early Saturday morning, worked in patrols, with each assuming a different role for each scenario.
In one scenario, a scout might serve as the command, assessing the situation and leading members in each job. In the next, he'd take on the role of first-responder, who gave direct first aid and stayed with the victim until professional first aid responders arrived; or as communicator, who contacted 911 operators. Scouts in auxiliary roles were responsible for crowd control and securing the accident scene.
Each scenario also had minimum requirements. For example, a scout couldn't just perform CPR on the "cardiac arrest victim" for a few seconds.
"It's very exhausting," Davis-Daisley said. "We want them to realize that doing CPR is difficult but that it's important to keep it going until the professional emergency responders arrive." You don't realize how taxing it is to continue CPR for that long."
Following all scenarios, the troop conducted an in-depth evaluation of their response, and were asked to assess what they did right, and what they could do better next time.
All in all, it was a good day, said Davis-Daisley, noting the troop will host over 30 Webelos in January to teach first aid skills and assist the Webelos in earning their Readyman Activity Pin.
"It begins to teach the younger kids to stay calm and be brave enough to step up and do something," she said. "We try to make it fun and interesting; if the adults stood up there talking to the scouts, it's just another adult talking. If it's another scout, a boy they look up to who may only be 2 or three years older, and he's saying it's important, then it makes an impact."
Troop 128 is chartered by St. Mary's In-The-Hills Episcopal Church on Joslyn Road, and meets on Tuesday, 6:45 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Scoutmaster, Brian Kelly at 248-693-6240 or Donna Davis-Daisley, Charter Organization Representative, at 248-391-2005 or email LOTroop128Scouts@aol.com
Lake Orion Review Editor