Today we worked on our First Aid badge. I scheduled a visit from our local fire department ahead of time, but had back-up activities planned in case they were called out on an emergency and couldn't come.
Beforehand, I went through the Brownie book on First Aid, to ensure I covered all my bases. I tried to include the most important aspects, and added in my own items based upon the girls' levels of comprehension, interest, and what I felt were realistic expectations to have for second-graders.
I broke it down into two parts:
For Prevention, we talked about things like always wearing a bicycle helmet when riding your bike on the street or sidewalk, because that's our state's law (your state's law may be different; regardless, a helmet is a good thing when you're on a bike). We also talked about other laws, like wearing seat belts and/or being in a booster when riding in the car.
As with every discussion topic, we did a lot of question/answer time, and I tried to keep it upbeat and fun. But my intention was to have the girls think of situations where emergencies could be prevented, because that was just as much an important part of First Aid (at least for a group of seven- and eight-year-olds) as the second part, Response, is.
We talked about always swim with a buddy, and wearing sunscreen. We also talked about identifying poisonous plants (ivy, oak, and sumac, including how important it is to never collect wood for a campfire from a water area, in case it's sumac. Inhaling smoke from sumac can be very, very bad -- deadly even).
I made cards for the girls ahead of time that had pictures of the plants on them:
I printed these on heavy card stock.
On the back, I had the next template printed. The reason it is upside-down is to make it so you can print it on the BACK of the above template, and easily cut out the cards so you don't have to worry about them lining up properly, since it's a front/back image. The text does not appear upside-down on the actual cards, however. Just on the template:
Here's what this side says:
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY:
1. KNOW WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY:
- UNCONSCIOUS PERSON
- STRANGER DANGER
2. STAY CALM
3. GET AN ADULT
4. REMEMBER YOUR EMERGENCY NUMBERS:
POLICE, FIRE, DOCTOR: 911
You are welcome to make your own cards however you like, but if you want them to be double-sided, you can use the above templates. Just make sure to test your printer first so you're flipping the poisonous plants side over and feeding it properly so the Emergency side prints right behind the Plants side. (If you have issues, feel free to leave me a comment.)
The second part of handling an emergency, and providing First Aid, is Response.
We went through the list on the cards and talked about what constitutes an emergency, and how important it is to never call 911 as a joke.
I showed them my cell phone and how it's locked and how to use it to call 911 even if it's locked. I told them not everyone's cell phone is like mine. Some have different buttons, etc. But on mine, it's not enough to just dial 9-1-1. You have to also press the green send icon. So it's not just about dialing 9-1-1. You have to press "talk" or "send" or look for a green icon like the one on my phone.
We talked about what questions the operator/responder might ask them. And how it's important to tell them what has happened and stay on the phone since they might have questions for you.
When to Call 911
We talked about fires, and what "unconscious" means, also what an intruder is (someone trying to break into your home to steal something, or someone trying to break in with an intent to do harm). I did add that if someone is breaking into your home and you cannot find an adult or get out, you should find a really good hiding place. I told them where in my house I would hide, and had them all think of the very best hiding spot they could think of (this is a good way to lighten up what could otherwise be a potentially scary topic, I think).
We also talked about Stranger Danger. I did not go into great depth on this because I really didn't want to overwhelm them with the scarier aspects of Response, but basically told them that if anyone they did not know tried to take them somewhere, they were to YELL and SCREAM and KICK and HIT, and most importantly?
We talked about if you're outside playing and a stranger makes you scared or seems to intend harm or wants you to go with him, you are to RUN AWAY!
I asked the girls, "What should you do?"
"Run away!" they said.
I said, "SAY IT LOUD! I WANT TO HEAR HOW FAST YOU'D RUN! What would you do?" and they all yelled loudly (with great gusto) "RUN AWAY!!!"
YES! Exactly. That's my girls! YELL IT! DO IT! Good job. :)
And doing something like that -- interacting in a way that gives them strength and reminds them of their own ability to be brave -- can help make an otherwise scary topic seem less intimidating. It can empower the girls. I reminded them Girl Scouts are courageous and strong (red petal from Daisies!) and we know to run away fast!
Fire Department and First Aid Kits:
We were really excited the Firefighters were able to come to our meeting!
They brought in their First Aid kit and demonstrated use of the items inside. It was a lot of fun for the girls, and the firefighters seemed to enjoy it as well. They explained bandaging techniques, applying pressure to a wound, splints, neck braces, and more.
They talked about what to do in a fire (stop, drop, roll, and cover your face!), and the importance of having a family meeting place, and practicing fire drills.
The girls asked a lot of questions! It was great. :)
Then I pulled out my First Aid bag -- the one I always, ALWAYS keep with me at every single Girl Scout event -- and dumped it on the table. I asked the firefighters to look at what I had inside, and tell me if it was a good First Aid kit or not, or if I needed to add anything.
It was a lot of fun explaining why there were bandanas in there. It's a national Girl Scout rule that you must have your hair pulled back, and your head covered (hat or bandana), when you're around a campfire of any kind.
I did not get a chance to talk about things like always keep a bucket and rake on hand when you have a fire, but at this point we were nearing the end of the meeting. (And that can wait for pre-camp meetings.)
The girls got to pass around and look at several items the firefighters brought in, and really seemed to enjoy the visit. I can't say how much I appreciated the fire department taking the time to come and do this presentation for our troop. It was really wonderful.
If you are not able to have a visit from your fire department, go to your school nurse, or see if there's a parent in the troop with medical training. Call your local Police/Fire headquarters and ask if they have EMTs on hand who might be available. Basically anyone in authority with medical training can help out here, if you have someone to ask. Just know that because of the nature of their job, they may not be able to show up. So definitely have a back-up plan on hand!
Mine was toilet paper. Yep, TP. That wonderful thing. I'd brought in several rolls and my plan was to split the girls into pairs ("buddies") and have them practice bandaging one another. Basically it would've been a light-hearted game for them to just wrap each other up mummy-style. ;)
Unfortunately, we did not have time to get to this. But that's okay! TP never goes to waste (ha! See what I did there?).
Personal First Aid Kits
The impression I've gotten is that many troops have the girls make their own individual First Aid kids. However, we have a pretty large troop (17 at this count, with 4 visiting kids today alone). So the cost for purchasing adequate supplies was simply not feasible.
I'd looked online but couldn't find any that were affordable and appropriate for our troop. Because we had the added challenge of ensuring there were no medications of any form (including topical ointments) in the kits, because our school's regulations state that no child can carry medication in her backpack. It must be locked in the nurse's office.
Luckily, my co-leader found some kits at a Dollar-type store. But they didn't have quite enough. So I drove to a different Dollar Tree store and found a generic brand of mini-kits that were literally $1 each. (You can order them online here, if they are in stock. But that's a bulk order. I didn't need that many. Google it, if you don't have a local Dollar Tree or similar store in your area. You might can find some online if you aren't in a position for the girls to make their own.)
These kits had a variety of band-aids, gauze, and alcohol wipes (this doesn't count as medication because the school allows anti-bacterial wipes and gel). We passed the kits out to the girls and told them to be sure to fill out the Emergency info on their cards and include those in the kits for their backpacks.
The girls were delighted with their kits! I was so thrilled we found them for such an affordable cost.
In the end, I think it was a successful introduction to First Aid, which is what I think a realistic expectation for second-graders. I don't expect kids this age to know how to put a broken arm in a splint, or know how to properly bandage a serious wound. But knowing how THEY can help prevent accidents, and how THEY can identify what is, and help respond in, an emergency? That's very realistic and age-appropriate, in my opinion. Today was all about introducing them to it. As they get older, we will go much more in-depth with this topic for later badges.
Bottom line: I'm proud of my girls. I feel like they left today's meeting armed with information that can truly help them. And I'm very thankful to our local fire department for coming out and helping with this meeting.
Next up? Celebrating Community!