Camp 911 offers kids an inside look at medical emergencies

By Kurt Hauglie
The Daily Mining Gazette

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Amy Ruohonen attended Camp 911 in 2006 and 2007 when she was in middle school, and she thinks the experience influenced her decision to make emergency medical care her career.

Ruohonen was recently demonstrating some of the equipment and techniques she uses working for Mercy EMS during the two days of this year's Camp 911 at the Mercy EMS headquarters in Franklin Township.

She's had an interest in the medical field for years, Ruohonen told The Daily Mining Gazette, but attending Camp 911 provided her with a sense of what emergency medicine is like.

"It gave me an insight into the (emergency medical service) side versus the hospital side," she said.

Ruohonen, an EMT with Mercy EMS, said when she attended Camp 911 as a student, she was particularly impressed with the demonstration of extricating a vehicle accident "victim."

Ruohonen was at Camp 911 showing students what an EMT does at an emergency.

Ann Clancy-Klemme, who helped create Camp 911 in 1999, said Ruohonen's experience is what the organizers like to see with all the children who attend it. It's hoped those who attend the event will at the very least be able first responders in an emergency situation, which could help keep a victim alive.

Clancy-Klemme said Camp 911 was the idea of a doctor from Marquette, who asked her as a nurse to organize it. Since then, the event has gotten quite popular.

"We started out with 22 kids, and now we have 80-plus," she said. "The growth is because of the interest (in the program)."

Most of the children attending Camp 911 are in sixth and seventh grade, Clancy-Klemme said. Those running the event have found that about 80 campers is the optimal number for efficiency, and those slots filled up about two weeks before the event this year. More than a dozen children had to be turned away, but they are on the list for next year's camp.

Clancy-Klemme said students who attend the camp tell their younger siblings, relatives and friends about it, and those children often attend future camps, creating a sort of legacy.

Besides teaching children how to deal with emergency situations, Clancy-Klemme said Camp 911 teaches them ways to avoid possible emergencies, such as wearing bicycle helmets, using seat belts and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

"We teach them how to mitigate high-risk behavior," she said.

For most students who pass through the event, Clancy-Klemme said the message is received.

"By the second day, they get it," she said.

At the end of the program, Clancy-Klemme said all participants will get an emergency kit, which is more than just a gift.

"This isn't a present," she said. "They earned it."

Clancy-Klemme said there were 21 emergency agencies, health care providers and individuals taking part in Camp 911, and the people with those organizations were volunteering their time.

Gerry Primeau, manager of Marcy EMS, said for the first two years Camp 911 was conducted at the Houghton County Memorial Airport, then he was asked if it could move to the Mercy property, and he agreed.

Primeau said he thinks Camp 911 is good for children in helping them understand what to do in emergency situations. It also helps them realize what emergency personnel go through.

"This gives them an opportunity ... to see we're real people," he said.

He hired Amy Ruohonen as an EMT, so he knows the program had a positive effect on her.

Emma Heinonen, 12, from Washington Middle School, attended Camp 911 for the first time, and she had a concise answer about what she thought of her experience.

"It's fun," she said.

Published: Thu, Aug 13, 2015

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