The first thing they do, after seeing their bus is not in a safe location, is to evacuate, taking their day packs and emergency packs that were stored up front with them to a spot upwind from the accident.
A cell phone call goes out to 911 and then the Scouts begin using their first aid and other training to do what they can to save lives. With multiple victims injured, they set about conducting a field triage – a sorting and culling to make sure those most severely injured get first treatment.
Ambulances begin to arrive, as do firefighters and other emergency first responders. A medical helicopter drops down to transport the most severely injured victims to hospitals. At the controls is Dale Mueller, 59, pilot for Life Ambulance, and himself an Eagle Scout. The Scouts continue to work with victims until air and ground medics take over.
Quick work by a group of the Boy Scouts of America has helped save lives.
That was the Emergency Preparedness Disaster Scenario handled by this group of Scouts. And handled well, their leaders said.
And so said the “victims”
“I had a broken leg and my head hit the steering wheel,” said Eric Eric Manninen of Troop 32, a scout who volunteered to be one of the crash victims. “They stayed cool and acted quick. They didn’t panic. They went right to work, carried me out of danger with a blanket, put splints on my leg and treated my head injury.”
The Scouts knew when they pulled out of Portsmouth High School’s parking lot on a bus they would be involved in some kind of mock emergency drill, but they didn’t know what, said Scoutmaster Phil Malone.
He was helped by Dr. Steve Harvey, first assistant Scoutmaster, and John Goddard, second assistant Scoutmaster.
“For a bunch of kids who’ve never been through something like this before, they’re not doing too bad,” Harvey said as he watched and lent a word of encouragement here and there. “Our scouting program teaches them first aid, but they had never experienced this kind of disaster. They’re making mistakes — we expected them to — but they’re learning from those mistakes, and that’s going to put it all together for them.”
The training exercise Sunday afternoon by Simon Kenton Council’s National Jamboree Troop 1412, consisting of 36 Scouts from several area troops, ranging in age 11 to 17, was actually acted out behind Portsmouth’s Municipal Stadium.
Also taking part was Life Ambulance and police and firefighters from the Portsmouth departments.
The event was part of Jamboree Troop 1412’s work to see individual Scouts earn the Emergency Preparedness Award pin during next summer’s National Jamboree. Only National Jamboree troops can qualify and apply this national award.
Sunday’s exercise was their first real “hands on” practice.
“We’re not at all done. We’ll be training monthly on disaster response scenarios,” said Malone. “It’s a big undertaking to win this award. Planning for today’s exercise has taken place for the past three months. Being the first to apply has boosted morale and brought this group of Scouts together. We have members from Maysville, Ky., to Greenfield, Peebles, and all over Scioto County.”
There will be five other Scout Troops from the Simon Kenton Council at the national event on 2010.
FIRST TO APPLY
The award was first introduced in 2005, and the troop – which at that time was Jamboree Troop 1312 – was the first in the nation to apply for it.
In 2005, while at a Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill, Va., a lingering heat wave that struck the East Coast made the beginning days miserable, with oppressive heat day and night, and many field events had to be called off.
“During troop mobilizations – imagine if you can 43,000 boys and adults in uniform marching for a couple of miles – the heat finally started to take its toll,” Malone said. “People, not just scouts, but visiting adults, started to drop from heat exhaustion. Our troop did very well. Some of them even rendered help to others. Our leadership was very proud of them.”
The Army had medi-vacs constantly in the air. All aid stations were crowded. Local newspaper reports said more than 3,000 people were treated. Many others got what amounted to quick-fixes with bottled water and Ivs.
Malone said Jamboree Troop 1312 was recognized during an awards ceremony as “The Most Prepared Troop” in sub-camp 13.
In 2010 they will be in sub-camp 14 and thus the designation Troop 1412 for next year’s Jamboree.
Portsmouth Mayor Jim Kalb welcomed the Scouts at the high school parking lot and watched through the entire event at Municipal Stadium.
“I think this has been a great exercise for our boy scouts, our future leaders, in a life-like situation. They learned a lot today,” Kalb said afterward. “They saw where they made mistakes and overall I think they really handled the situation well, I want to thank everyone who made this happen. I’d like to see more of this going on for our youth.”
“With the help of Mayor Kalb,” Malone said, “our Scouts have learned how a cooperative community can respond to disaster and recover quickly to return to normal. By being prepared, and learning how to mitigate common situations that turn into disaster for individuals, families and our community, we’re better preparing them on what to do.
“Of course, these are skills we hope they will never have to use.”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.