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The Dirt | Emergency Preparedness Tips # 10

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Whether it’s an ice storm, a wildfire, or another natural disaster, volunteers from Benton County Community Emergency Response Team (BCCERT) have been trained to help their neighbors respond. Pam Wilson is a retired teacher and a trained BCCERT member who has created this blog post series to help Benton County residents prepare for emergencies. This is the tenth installment.


Become Familiar with 911

At the end of a long two days of Wilderness First Aid training I asked about training teens and younger kids in this class. Because the answer was, “They have to be 16,” I asked what could be done in the meantime. The response was, “Have them learn to call 911.” Now I’ve called 911 several times and I think I handled it well, but thinking about kids calling 911 led to wanting to train my grandkids to do this. Even if you don’t have kids or grandchildren, perhaps this will clarify what you should do.


After calling 911

  1. Take a deep breath and stay calm.
  2. When Emergency Dispatch (Dispatch) answers, listen and answer their questions. In Corvallis/Benton Country, they normally greet you with “911, what is your emergency?”
  3. As part of the first information given in the call, state your location/address, the type of responder needed (police, fire, EMT), phone type you’re calling from and the number. You may also give your name. That way Dispatch has the information to recontact you if your call is dropped.
    • “I’m at the corner of Monroe and 5th in Corvallis. I’m calling from my cell phone, 541-654-9090 and I need an ambulance.”
  4. State the emergency as simply as possible
    • “My sister fell off a ladder.”
    • “My son was kicked by a horse.”
    • “An older woman fell on the sidewalk.”
  5. When asked the victim’s condition, to the best of your ability, describe the condition and location of the injury. Look for 3 things: 1) are they breathing, 2) are they conscious, and 3) are they bleeding?
    • “She fell from about 10 feet and landed on her right side. Her leg is at an odd angle. I can’t see any blood.”
    • “The horse booted him about 10 feet. He is lying on the ground, breathing but unconscious and his left arm is crumpled.”
    • “She is bleeding from a head wound and wants me to call her son but can’t give a name or number.”
  6. When Dispatch asks, “What is happening now,” tell them if you or someone else is administering first aid, beginning CPR, protecting the victim from the elements.
  7. If you are asked for a more precise location, give as much information as possible:
    • “I’m in Soap Creek Valley. When you come in from Tampico, South Boundary Road is the second road to the right. Beef Barn Road is the first.”
    • “We are in front of the Main Library entrance on Monroe; it looks like she tripped on the stairs and fell.”
  8. You may be instructed to begin first aid. You will be coached by Dispatch.
  9. Remain on the phone so Dispatch knows what is going on and can instruct you further. They will tell you when it is safe to hang up.


Preparing Youth to Use 911

So, how will a 4-year-old or even a 13-year-old know what to do? The answer is with practice and more practice!

  1. Don’t assume – do they know what to do on different types of phones? My grandchildren have never seen a pay phone or land line! Do they know what a dial tone is? That a 911 call from a pay phone is free? That on grandma’s cell phone they tap the entrance screen where it says emergency on the left-hand bottom side of the screen and the key pad appears, then they enter 911? Show them.
  2. Make sure they know their home address. If visiting you, do they know your address?
  3. It’s a little harder if they are out and about in town. Be situationally aware! When I am with my grandkids, I try to name streets. I have trouble remembering streets. I’m more likely to tell you I am on the street with the railroad tracks, across from the LE building, at Grassroots, along the river, or at the North Coop than the street name or number.
  4. Work on paying attention. Make a game of it: what happens if I slide and fall off the barn ramp (likely in the rain)? You go too fast down the road and fall off your bike? I fall off a ladder picking apples? Someone gets tangled up in a blackberry patch? Or stung by a bee? Are any of these reasons to call 911? How about flames leaping from the chimney? Paying attention to what could happen, might mean it doesn’t.
  5. Try to make this fun and part of life – taking care of each other. When I fell in December, the only one who saw this happen was my 8 year old grand-daughter. She found my cell phone and got her brothers, then started to cry. And sat holding my hand until the EMTs arrived.


September is National Preparedness Month

In addition to praying for rain and the possibility that we might make it through the end of this summer without evacuating, what would you like to go into winter knowing, owning or learning? Since September is National Preparedness Month, a variety of events are happening. In particular, FEMA is hosting a Virtual Family Prep Night from 6:30 to 7:15 PM on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021. Register here.

I have a chimney sweep and stove maintenance guy coming in October and ordered pellets last week. Think about what maintenance your cars might need – I still need two tires for the truck.  The latest issue of Ruralite had a two-page article on generators. Perhaps now is the time to learn more about generators and purchase one instead of waiting until a crisis.

For more information…