The FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness participated in Alabama's 8th annual Be Ready Camp on March 27 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center by providing live-patient simulators for more than 90 sixth-grade students.
Be Ready Camp is a five-day residential camp for Alabama youth to encourage citizen preparedness.
"I believe youth preparedness is important," CDP Leidos Exercise Command Manager Robi Mobley said. "The next generation is focused on the immediate. Teaching them to prepare and work toward a goal instills values and a good work ethic."
The simulators allowed participants to feel and hear heartbeats and breath sounds, view an arterial bleed from an amputated limb and interact with a simulated infant.
"The simulator was really cool," Jayden Siggers from Danville, Ala., said. "You could hear the heartbeat and feel the blood flow through the whole system like a real person."
During hands-on sessions, students were able to wear stethoscopes to listen for heartbeats, feel for pulses and examine different tools.
"The purpose of having demonstrations is to get them (students) hands-on experience with the equipment before the final exercise at the end of the week," Space Camp Program Manager Ruth Oliver said. "The students may or may not know what is in an ambulance or fire truck that could help them negotiate a disaster. They can see how training and planning works hand in hand."
Oliver said that in order for students to attend the camp, they had to write a letter to the governor's office and be selected based on merit.
"I was impressed with the kids especially after I found out the selection process for the camp," Mobley said. "The kids had to write an essay geared toward preparedness and explain why the camp was important. They seemed genuinely interested in managing responses."
Oliver said the skills students learned at the camp go beyond practical application of disaster preparedness.
"We're not only out to help them save lives in a disaster, we are building better people," Oliver said. "We are making sure people are thinking about their neighbors."