Pella Chronicle

May 19, 2013

Local Boy Scouts learn skills to be our future heroes

By Rick Cowman
The Chronicle

Pella — Over 160 scouts and leaders spent the weekend learning about Iowa emergencies and what it takes to “Be Prepared”.  

The Scout Moto is to be prepared, and the camporee last weekend was completely focused on preparing these young men for disasters; especially disaster situations that could happen in their own community. Tornado, fire and floods were the main focus — but also having fun. “We wanted to make the hand-on training fun for the boys so it’s easier for them to retain what they’ve learned”, said Debbie Kelly of Ankeny Troop 182.

The scouts rotated through 8 different stations, learning a different skill at each. At the first station the boys dress in full firefighting gear and drug a fire hose through a make shift tunnel to simulate a smoky hallway. They learned first hand what a firefighter does and how much strength it takes just to walk in all the safety gear plus drag a heavy hose.  The fire department also brought out their smoke house. This small building is capable of filling with smoke to simulate a house fire for educational purposes. The scouts sat in the house to see what a smoke filled room really looks like and learned the importance of having two ways out. 

One of the big highlights for many scouts was the fire extinguisher station. The scouts learned about PASS. Pull the pin, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep back and forth. Then every scout was able to use a fire extinguisher to put out a real fire. “Having first hand experience helps everyone remain calm during an emergency and that’s what we want these scouts to take away today. Remaining calm is equally important as preventing the emergency” said Mark Dooley, Lieutenant of the Ankeny Fire Department.

The next station was focused on missing persons and what scouts could do to help the police find someone who is lost. They also watched how quickly a K9 search and rescue dog could find a small drop of blood hidden in a field. 

Scouts from Polk City, Pella, Grinnell, Des Moines, Bondurant, Ankeny and Kansas also learned how to be prepared for Iowa weather, tornados and floods. Then they moved on to fill sandbags and build a flood levee, quickly learning that lots of hard work and sweat goes into building a levee that’s only 3ft tall. 

During disasters regular communication may be damaged or lost and scouts learned how Ham radios can supplement or even replace regular communications. Another essential function during a disaster is the displacement of large numbers of people. The scouts assisted the Red Cross by setting up cots and creating temporary housing areas.

Scouts arrived Friday night and set up camp on the grounds at the Ankeny Airport. On Saturday they moved through the stations that were run by emergency volunteers from the American Red Cross, Ankeny Police Department, Ankeny and Pleasant Hill Fire Department, Des Moines Radio Amateurs’ Association, Iowa National Guard, ISU Meteorology Club, Dr. L.D. McMullen from Des Moines Water Works and Paws of Life. The camporee was organized by Ankeny Troop 182 and concluded Sunday morning.