Firefighters develop classes for Scouts
West Jordan firefighters teach Boy Scouts how to do CPR using dummies at one of their merit badge classes on Nov. 8. The department started offering merit badge classes as a service to the community in October. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)
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By Tori La Rue | email@example.com
A group of 12-year-old boys checked the pulse of 15 dummies as the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” spread throughout the room in West Jordan Fire Station 54.
“What do you do when you can’t feel a pulse?” Capt. Jared Price asked the Boy Scouts over the music.
The Boy Scouts answered through their actions, overlapping their hands, placing them in the middle of the dummies’ chests and pushing down to the beat of the music, which helped them time roughly 100 compressions per minute. After about an hour and a half of instruction at the West Jordan Fire Department’s first aid merit badge class, the boys were applying the lifesaving techniques they’d learned from firefighters.
“They’re getting hands-on experience that they wouldn’t necessarily be getting if we taught this merit badge,” Scout leader Scott Simmons said at the Nov. 8 class. “We don’t have the same resources or dummies.”
The department started the free merit badge program in October and will be cycling through fire safety, first aid, emergency preparedness and safety instruction classes. They offer one to two Scout classes each month on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays.
Chief Marc McElreath came up with the idea for the merit badge classes, hoping to build a greater connection between his department and the local community. Price and Capt. Darin Montgomery volunteered to teach the training sessions, but they said they had no idea how popular the program would be. They’re booked out until July, but said they’re still accepting reservations for the rest of 2017 and backup reservations for the classes that are already reserved.
While Price and Montgomery teach, other on-duty firefighters sit in on the classes, and add occasional insights. At the Nov. 8 first aid merit badge class, which focused on CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, there was a ratio of one firefighter for every two to three Scouts, so the firefighters gave personalized instruction when the class broke into hands-on activities, critiquing and encouraging the Scouts’ actions.
“It was a really cool and fun meeting because I realized that I can help before someone was going to die,” said Collin Buchanan, one of the Scouts who attended the event. “If someone were choking or hurt, I’d know how to semi-help out.”
Giving boys these lessons not only helps them complete the requirements for a merit badge, it helps the community, Montgomery said.
“If we can educate at them at a young age, they can help someone in need at any time during their life,” he said. “They could be anywhere, and the training can come back to them.”
During their classes, the firefighters point out how what they are teaching relates to their jobs. Fire safety, first aid, emergency preparedness and other elements of safety directly relate to their field.
Price says he hopes the cooperation between the fire department and local troops will encourage some of the Scouts to pursue a career in public safety. During his teaching, Price teased two Scouts who had already participated in first aid training before the Nov. 8 class by telling them they almost knew enough to take his job. The two boys laughed and smiled.
Collin said the firefighters were both funny and “really, really cool,” and he hoped to participate in more of the department’s merit badge classes in the future. Montgomery said he’s happy to be making a difference in at least a few of the Scouts’ lives.
“I was a Scout myself, and I learned a lot of good things in Scouting,” Montgomery said. “Besides skills, it taught about leadership and gave me good mentors in my life. That is one of the reasons for doing this to have just a couple of hours to mentor these kids.”
Scout leaders can sign their troops up for the class at wjordan.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.