Scouts Join Health Professionals to Learn About First Aid/Emergency Response

By: Paul Bello, National Museum of Health and Medicine

SILVER SPRING, Md.: The National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) hosted its first Scout Day event May 31, 2014, at its home in Silver Spring, Md. More than 150 Boy and Girl Scouts from Montgomery County, as well as Washington, D.C., seized the opportunity to complete requirements toward first aid and emergency preparedness badges, while listening to professionals discuss everything from how to make a first aid kit to knowing when to help someone who is sick or in danger.

Maria Anderson attended early in the morning, along with several of her Girl Scouts from Troop 3494 - Church of Christ in Silver Spring. She believes the "outdoor classroom" will have many long-lasting benefits.

"This is something very important that more kids should know about. I'm so happy to see the museum offering this," Anderson said. "We also have kids that are thinking about careers and what they want to do in life. To be able to come here and learn something from real life professionals is fantastic."

Two of those professionals on hand that children could watch and learn from were Airmen Tech Sgt. Angelica Santos and Master Sgt. Bolivia Williams, both of the 579th Medical Group at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). They spent much of their time showing kids how to treat an arm sprain, bloody nose, skin burn, or open wound.

"I'm always happy to share safety tips with people, especially young children," Santos said. "It's important they learn and retain things like this now at a young age. You never know when it will come in handy."

That's exactly what brought Valerie Henry out to Scout Day, as well. A 3-D medical simulation designer with the Uniformed Services University Val G. Hemming Simulation Center at the Fort Detrick-Forest Glen Annex, she believes it's important for children to have at least a basic understanding of how to react in an emergency.

In one of the more interesting CPR demonstrations of the day, Henry performed chest compressions for a group of scouts while listening to the Bee Gee's hit song "Stayin' Alive" on her smartphone. According to her, the beat of the song matches the duration and number of chest compressions someone should be doing when administering CPR. Plus, she said, it's an easy enough song title to remember when trying to save a life.

"Whatever we can do to help get that message across, we're all for it," Henry said. "We're open to partnering with as many groups or departments as we can. We hope to do many more of these demonstrations in the future."

Also taking part in Scout Day were members of the Fort Detrick-Forest Glen Annex Fire Department, which demonstrated for scouts how to properly use a fire extinguisher and what information to relay over the phone when in an emergency.

Another participant was Air Force Col. William Rogers, chief of the Information Services Division, Armed Forces Pest Management Board. He explained tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). He was joined by retired Air Force colonel and current Boy Scout leader Jim Cox, who discussed outdoor injuries and first aid.

"These usually occur from spring through early fall. With summer upon us, this is a prime season for them," Rogers said. "We want everyone to be safe. It's good to check yourself frequently, particularly if you're going to be outdoors a lot. Use repellant and, if you get bit, wash the bite area right away and apply an antiseptic."

Rogers said it's best to remove a tick by using tweezers and grasping it as close to your skin as possible and pulling straight out. This should prevent the tick from injecting any fluid.

"I had fun and learned a lot. It's really important to be safe," said Jasmine Baines, a Girl Scout with Troop 3859 from St. Augustine Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. "I definitely feel more prepared. We had great teachers."

Not only was Scout Day a huge success for the young boys and girls attending, but it also showed the fabric of a strong partnership among the different presenters. Gwen Nelmes, tour program coordinator for the NMHM, said the museum and its partners had a great time and that there was a lot of positive feedback from both sides. She hopes to double the number of attendees next year.


See images from the 2014 Scout Day in our image gallery