Students selected for campPublished 4:27pm Tuesday, April 1, 2014
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
Three Franklin County sixth graders were selected to participate in the Be Ready Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville during spring break this past week.
The five-day camp provided 91 sixth graders from 22 counties from all over the state of Alabama the opportunity to become Youth Preparedness Delegates, receive a commendation from Gov. Robert Bentley and carry the message of preparedness to their schools, communities and families.
The three students selected from Franklin County were all from Phil Campbell – Trinity Latham, Hayden Moss and Emily Riner. Students had to write an essay to gain acceptance into the camp. The essay had to center on the question, “What does being part of a safe community mean to me?”
“Of course, we wanted the students to have fun, and they did,” said camp coordinator, Ruth Marie Oliver.
“But, we also wanted them to learn about the seriousness of being prepared for disasters.”
The campers did CERT training and FEMA activities such as triage training and CPR. The climax of the camp was a mock plane crash disaster in conjunction with the Madison County Emergency Management Team. In the mock disaster, the campers took on the roles of emergency management personnel.
“The students have fun but also understand the seriousness of what they are doing,” Oliver said. “The images and surroundings of the mock disaster are as realistic as we can make them.”
It was so realistic that Huntsville television stations warned local residents the night before on their newscasts to not be alarmed with loud explosions and sirens near the Space & Rocket Center.
“I really enjoyed doing the mock disaster,” Hayden Moss said.
“We had to work as a team. Each of us had a ‘Battle Buddy’ and we worked together. We learned how to calm people down in emergencies and stay focused on our responsibilities. We loved the camp and made a lot of friends.”
Rusty Russell, head of the Madison County EMA, was pleased with the success of the camp.
“The Space Camp team does a great job with this camp every year,” Russell said. “It gets better every year.
“Students learned disaster preparedness, disaster psychology, how to talk to a disaster victim, and they learned to work as a team.
“These students are in the prime learning age of their life and we hope they can take some of this experience back to their schools and communities and be a public servant.”
John Mason, director of the Governor’s Serve Alabama Initiative, said that it is essential for Alabamians to be prepared for disasters.
“Alabamians are not strangers to disasters,” Mason said.
“Of course, we had the tornados of April 2011. Many of these students were directly affected by those storms. We also have had major hurricanes affect the southern part of the state.”
All three of the Phil Campbell students talked about “doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” which was a point that was hammered home to them in each session.
“I enjoyed learning how to use a fire extinguisher to put out fires,” Emily Riner said.
“We learned things we could use at home with our families and at school. The camp taught us leadership and teamwork.”
Trinity Latham agreed.
“I had a great time participating in the mock disaster,” she said.
“It was tough work but the staff made it fun and a great learning experience for us. I would recommend any student that gets the opportunity to go to this camp to take advantage of it.”