HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) supported Alabama’s 8th Annual Be Ready Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center here for the first time Thursday, April 27.

Be Ready Camp is a five-day residential camp designed to promote citizen preparedness and participation to the youths of Alabama.

Robi Mobley, Leidos Exercise Command Manager for the CDP, led the presentation on three different live patient simulators to the more than 90 sixth graders.

“I believe youth preparedness is important,” said Mobley. “The next generation is focused on the immediate. Teaching them to prepare and work toward a goal instills values and a good work ethic.”

The three simulators were set up and fully functional for the kids to interact with and see how professional responders train at the CDP for real disasters.

“We took [three different types of simulators] one so kids could feel pulses and hear heart/breath sounds; a second to demonstrate an amputation to show an arterial bleed and discuss treatment; and an infant simulator so they could see the depth of training that we do,” said Mobley.

The three simulators were a big hit with the children. During the hands-on presentation, students were encouraged to wear stethoscopes, listen for heartbeats, feel for pulses, examine the different tools, and ask as many questions as possible.

“The simulator was really cool,” said Jayden Siggers, from Danville, Ala. “You could hear the heart beat and feel the blood flow through the whole system like a real person.”

During the presentation, Mobley and Dawn Monroe, contract Lead Simulation Technician, were able to demonstrate how one simulator would have an arterial spurt from an amputated leg. The simulated medical emergency is something that always gets the students’ attention, according to Mobley.

“My favorite part was the manikin that bleeds and is covered in moulage,” said Ashley Posey, a student from Boaz, Ala.

Moulage was used both on the manikins as a teaching tool and on volunteers. Students were able to see how makeup was applied to simulate bruises that role players would wear during an exercise.

Having hands-on equipment and technology offers students insight into what first responders need in an emergency situation.

“The purpose of having demonstrations is to get them (students) hands-on experience with the equipment before the final exercise at the end of the week,” said Ruth Oliver, program manager at Space Camp. “The students may or may not know what is in an ambulance or fire truck that could help them negotiate a disaster. They can see how training and planning works hand in hand.”

CDP was invited to Be Ready Camp after attending Be Ready Day last September.

“The kids, when they are training, always want to know how the real guys train,” said Oliver. “How do you train for real-life scenarios? That is always the biggest question. The patient simulators, are a piece of technology that these kids would not normally see. They can have a broader understanding of the professionalism involved with being a responder.”

The interaction with the simulators show the sophisticated technology that is used to train responders for real events said Mobley.

“I believe we were very well received,” she said. “The kids seemed impressed by the manikins’ features and capabilities.”

The students at Be Ready Camp were required to write a letter to the Governor’s office. It is a statewide selection and the students were chosen based on the merit of the letter said Oliver.

“I was impressed with the kids especially after I found out the selection process for the camp,” said Mobley. “The kids had to write an essay geared toward preparedness and explain why the camp was important. They seemed genuinely interested in managing responses.”

The goal for the camp is not only to prepare the youth for potential disaster, it is an effort to help cultivate an environment of problem solvers, said Oliver.

“It gives them a lot of skills that goes beyond disaster preparedness,” said Oliver. “It helps them think of the ‘what ifs’. We’re not only out to help them save lives in a disaster, we are building better people. We are making sure people are thinking about their neighbors.”

Oliver was able to gauge the success of the demonstration based on the enthusiasm from the students.

“When they start asking serious questions, you know you’re doing well,” said Oliver. “That means they are thinking.”