GEMA/HS Dispatch March 2018 Edition - Page 22

Bystanders Begone Training empowers everyone to respond effectively in an emergency I By Julia Regeski mmediately following a disaster, the responsibility of helping survivors does not belong solely to professional first responders. Everyday citizens, many compelled by compassion even in the chaos, have consistently shown that they are willing do whatever they can to help those in need. Recently, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency has been empowering members of their community to act upon that compassion in a safe, effective way. By presenting “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives,” a program based on a comprehensive curriculum created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, participants are taught skills to be used immediately following a disaster, before first responder professionals are able to assist. Chelsea Sawyer is the emergency management specialist in community outreach at CEMA, as well as the organizer and teacher of CEMA’s “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives” presentations. “The reason that I, personally, wanted to start teaching this class is because of the Las Vegas shooting, because of the church shooting that happened in Texas, where everyday people made a difference,” said Sawyer. “No one taught them how to do it, but … if you teach people and you practice with them regularly and show them that this is what they can do to potentially save a life, that muscle memory is going to come into play when an emergency event happens.” What students practice in CEMA’s course is everything from psychological reassurance for those affected to arranging those injured into a safer “recovery position.” Driven by the idea that anyone can make a difference in an emergency, the course’s curriculum goes into great detail on exactly what students should do at each stage immediately following an incident. Sawyer has taken this idea one step further, not only relying on FEMA’s content, but also providing more hands-on scenarios. “We let people touch an actual tourniquet,” she said. “We show them what it is, we pass it around the classroom and give them the opportunity to see it and practice with it.” Dale Worley, a student of the class and minister at Unity of Savannah, which CEMA used as their teaching space, was pleasantly surprised by this effective teaching technique, but also at the simplicity of the steps anyone can take to help. “One of the things that spoke to and really resonated with me is the idea that one of the best things a person can do in an emergency is to provide comfort to people,” said Worley. “Just letting them know what’s going on, saying things like ‘help is on the way, I’ll be with you until help gets here’ - I thought that was pretty profound.” The curriculum stresses that those immediately affected by an emergency often remain in danger longer than necessary solely because of the bystander effect, the mentality that someone other than the individual witness will provide assistance. CEMA’s presentations have dispelled this belief amongst students, and empowered more than 50 participants to become responsible for providing crucial immediate care after a dangerous situation. Many of these students were forced to confront an emergency following several major weather events in the past year. “For Hurricane Matthew, people thought the storms would never hit Savannah,” said Worley. “They said ‘we’ll be fine,’ and then we got a surprise. Even though Irma kind of missed us last year, people were still very nervous. To give them the tools that they can use in any emergency situation and keep them calm – it’s really valuable.” To learn more about CEMA’s “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives” course, contact Chelsea Sawyer at 912-201-4500. FEMA’s techniques used in the course can be found on Ready.gov at https://www.ready. gov/until-help-arrives. Following a disaster like the tornadoes that devasted Albany, GA in late January of 2017, many citizens feel unsure of how to help. Photo by Lisa Rodriguez-Presley. 22 DISPATCH