As they opened their meeting at St. Anne’s Church on June 4, many of the Girl Scout Brownies from Troop 12826 glanced at Edward Sanchez and Kate Santella, two EMTs from Jersey City Medical Center, and the array of equipment they had brought with them.
Arranged by Sean Connors and Dave Calton of the Jersey City Police Department, the event was designed to help these Brownies earn a merit badge in First Aid, a step towards attaining the next level in rank.
Brownies are the second level in Girl Scouting, and usually includes girls from second and third grade, ages 7 to 9.
The goal at this level is to teach the girls about themselves, their families, and the world around them through a variety of experiences and through their efforts to earn merit badges. There are four kinds of badges: legacy badge, financial literary badges, cookie business badges and skill-building badges. Legacy badges, for example, are awarded for efforts in art, athletics, citizenship, cooking, and first aid.
These badges, once earned, are worn on the Brownie uniform. Most of the girls, but not all those at St. Anne’s, wore the vest and sash typical of the Brownie uniform.
On this night, about 16 girls of the troop were working their way toward earning their First Aid badges. They received help from the EMTs, while also learning what roles the EMTs, police, and firefighters play in providing medical attention during an emergency, according to Kat Kelly, who runs the troop along with Violet Jensen.
Although most of the girls come from the Jersey City Heights area, a few come from other towns. For instance, Naihjah Badillo lives in Hoboken.
How to alert 9-1-1
Sanchez and Santella went through the basics with the kids about what to do if there is an emergency, and they have to call 9-1-1.
“The operator is going to ask you questions,” Sanchez said, explaining why the operator needed this information. They taught the small scouts how they might find the information if they don’t know it right away, such as looking at mail for the address. While in many cases, 9-1-1 operators have an address report on their console from the phone, sometimes they don’t verify the information.
Sanchez, who has been an EMT for 14 years, said there are a number of ways kids can report an emergency, even using technology such as texting.
“The information the 9-1-1 operator gets makes it easier for us to find the location and to know what to do when we arrive,” Sanchez said.
Often police or firefighters may arrive on the scene first and help stabilize the person until the EMTs arrive.
“We all work as a team,” Sanchez said.
The kids meanwhile had their own questions. What do EMTs do if people on the road do not pay attention to the sirens? What can be done if someone is bleeding?
Santella, who has been an EMT for 10 years, said the ambulance carries a lot of supplies to cover a wide range of emergencies.
Displaying the first aid kit they carry onto the scene, Santella said they have supplies to handle bleeding, heart attacks, pain, glucose for diabetics, and other items.
“And we have a lot of kits just like this in our ambulance,” she said.
Called a “jump bag,” the kit includes bandages, EpiPen for allergic reactions and other items.
Santella also held up a small red box which contained a defibrillator, which she said helps people who may have a heart problem.
But Sanchez told the kids that there are things the girls can do themselves, and showed them how to apply pressure to stop bleeding, how to put on a bandage, and how to put together their own first aid kits.
Police Officer Dave Calton, who serves as the North District Community Officer, told the kids, “Everybody knows me as ‘Dave the Cop.’ If you see me on the street, it’s okay to say hello.”
Calton and Connors talked about safety, and what kids should do and not do when involved in emergency situations, and especially cautioned them about dealing with strangers.
“If someone comes to school and tells you that your parents told them to pick them up, don’t go with them, go find a teacher or someone you know,” Connors said.
To earn their First Aid badge, the girls must be able to make their own first aid kit, Kelly said, and to know how to make a 9-1-1 call.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.