At the St. Mark United Methodist Church in Anniston, the kids took turns practicing CPR on a dummy, learned what to put in an emergency kit and what to do during a fire.
Tammy Bain, public information officer for the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, said this was the fourth year Citizen Corps has offered the camp and organizers have seen the highest attendance rate yet. Bain said the camp was intended to make children aware of what they should do before, during and after a disaster, with the hope that the information would be spread to family members.
“The kids get all excited about what they learn and they go home and tell their parents about it or they tell their friends about it. It’s another way to educate the community,” Bain said.
Melonie Carmichael, president of the Calhoun County Citizen Corps, said the camp wouldn’t be successful without donations from local stores and help from volunteers. Children were taught by volunteers from the Anniston Fire Department, Anniston Police Department, the EMA and the Citizen Corps.
Over the last four years, the camp has been held in Jacksonville, Oxford and Anniston. Bain and Carmichael hope to plan something next year in Piedmont.
Phyllis Waits, an associate professor of nursing at Jacksonville State University and coordinator of the Calhoun-Cleburne County Medical Reserve Corps, showed the children techniques for combating shock, how to provide first-aid for wounds and methods to make sure a person’s airway is cleared and they are breathing properly.
Waits said she and the Medical Reserve Corps are always eager to educate the public on handling a medical emergency, especially children.
“We do the blood and guts part, so that’s the fun part,” Waits said. “They always enjoy that.”
Presley Taylor, 11, was attending the camp for the second-year in a row. Taylor said the camp has taught her how to help people when they’re hurt and she’s learned new skills each year.
Taylor’s favorite activity was learning how animals react during disasters by a veterinarian because she said she wants to be a game warden when she grows up.
“You have to be very careful because even if animals love you very much when they’re hurt they do not have feelings and they will attack,” Taylor said.
Anniston fire Sgt. Josh Kitchens provided information on search and rescue situations. Kitchens said the kids were very attentive and he felt like they soaked in everything they learned throughout the day.
The sergeant said it’s important for children to recognize a hazardous situation before they put themselves in danger.
“I was preaching to them that if it’s within your scope, you handle it. If it’s not, make sure you contact the right personnel,” he said.
Kitchens said children knowing what to do during a disaster situation, especially one that could delay response times of emergency personnel, could save someone’s life.
Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.