RUEMS hosts College Mentors for Kids event

RUEMS Captain David Darrach-Chavez shows a group of children the RUEMS quarters.
RUEMS Captain David Darrach-Chavez (top, center) and Cameron Hooten (top, left) show a group of children the RUEMS quarters.

Dozens of children learned the ins and outs of Radford University’s Emergency Medical Services (RUEMS) on Nov. 29 during a College Mentors for Kids event.

The kids were divided into four groups, each of which involved a different aspect of EMS. The City of Radford Fire Department showing and explaining a fire truck and the tools contained within at the first station; the second station allowed each child to see, touch and use some of the response tools used by RUEMS; the third station brought the children inside the station to see RUEMS’ quarters and had a backboard demonstration; the fourth and final station was a show and tell of the rescue vehicle and explained the everything inside Rescue 9.

Each station allowed the mentors and children to get a glimpse of what RUEMS does on a daily basis: provide medical and emergency response to the campus community and other university owned facilities as a fully-licensed and student-run organization.  

“Their VP reached out to us and we took it as a great opportunity to reach out to the community,” said Kendalyn Hersh, of Chesapeake and the RUEMS public information officer. “We thought it was a great opportunity for the children to familiarize themselves with EMS and make sure that they know that it is always OK to call or ask for help. We wanted them to be comfortable with fire and rescue people.”

For RUEMS Vice President Katie Mankowski, of Fairfax, the event served as a reunion of sorts. The former College Mentor for Kids mentor led one of the four groups when she saw a familiar face – her old mentee.

Hailey Laird, right, lets a child use a stethoscope to hear her heart beat.

Hailey Laird, right, lets a child use a stethoscope to hear her heart beat.

“She turned to her friend and whispered something. She then asked me what my name was and I said ‘Katie.’ Her face lit up,” Mankowski said. “I had never been anything similar to a mentor before. "There’s a mentor part of it, but they also become your friend. It’s not like having a conversation with an adult. Some of the kids don’t have the best home situation or the best family life. They aren’t growing up in the best circumstances and as a mentor, you get to be a person they can learn from and look up to.”

Mankowski said that she wants the kids to know how to handle a medical emergency, if they are ever in that situation.

“You can learn. You can help,” Mankowski said. “You can be that person who is making things better for other people. I think that was really good for them to see. When the kids were at the show and tell station, the got really excited. They saw how we hold someone’s airway open, how we respond to someone unconscious – everything. I’m glad we could use the event to help the mentors and the mentees.”

Chris Smith ’17, a lifetime member of RUEMS and leader of the show and tell station, said that “Kids love to touch and they love to see at these ages. They don’t always care unless they can see it, feel it or squeeze it and we tried to provide that.”

Jacob Britton, center, shows the children some of the tools contained in Rescue 9.
Jacob Britton, center, shows the children some of the tools contained in Rescue 9.

Jacob Britton, of Radford, assisted RUEMS President Daren Smith in showing the kids Rescue 9. Britton explained and showed the kids everything that is kept in the truck, including the pulse oximeter, which is a small device placed on a finger.

“That was my favorite part,” he said. “It showed them their heart rate and oxygen saturation. It’s easy to use and doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort. At the end, I’d let them try it. The kids got really excited about that.”

Hailey Laird, of Charlottesville, assisted Smith with the show and tell station and said that kids aren’t always familiar with CPR and other techniques.

“We just wanted them to be familiar with our instruments and what’s done in different situations,” Laird said. “I think they got the feel of how serious it was. I know sometimes kids are afraid of ambulances, but we aren’t scary. We are only there to help.

“We wanted to teach the kids that if they feel like they ever need help, always call 911,” Laird continued. “There are always situations where kids don’t know if it is serious – it was a big thing for us to let them know that if there is a problem, call.”

During the event, RUEMS fielded questions from the kids – ranging from what each instrument did to what they did in certain situations. But one question underscored everything about RUEMS.

One child asked a RUEMS member if they were in RUEMS while being a student. “Yes,” was the response.

The child’s eyes opened wide and said, “Wow.”

Wow, indeed.

Dec 6, 2017
Max Esterhuizen