Woodland elementary students learn water, fire, and car safety from the experts

Previous Next

Students at Woodland Primary School learned a variety of safety lessons from Cowlitz County safety professionals during a two-day visit on May 20-21, 2016.

Students at Woodland Primary School learned a variety of safety lessons including water safety, fire safety, poison identification, and more.
Students at Woodland Primary School learned a variety of safety lessons including water safety, fire safety, poison identification, and more. 

Elementary students received lessons on proper water safety, fire safety, seat belts, booster seats, and poison identification as part of Gear Up Games, a community outreach program run by PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center based in Vancouver. "We've been running Gear Up Games for ten years, bringing injury prevention to school children from kindergarten through fifth grade," said Dave Collins, Trauma Program Manager for PeaceHealth, who organizes and runs training events at elementary schools throughout southwest Washington. "This program is designed to prevent drownings and other kinds of serious injuries that can be prevented through basic safety training."

Students learned how to stop, drop, and roll to put out fire; lessons about water safety including the importance of always wearing a life jacket; and car safety such as always wearing seat belts, how children must be 13 years old before sitting in the front seat, and how children must sit in booster seats until they grow to at least 4' 11" tall. In addition, students rehearsed emergency phone calls where they simulated a call to 911, needed to speak calmly, and had to know their family's phone number. "If they don't know their phone number, that's their homework for the night," explained Collins. "The next day, we test students to make sure they know their family's phone number so they can make these vital calls, if necessary."

Students learned how to stop, drop, and roll to put out fires.
Students learned how to stop, drop, and roll to put out fires.

Students meet firefighters in person to become familiar with firefighting equipment and what firefighters might look like if they come to a house to put out a fire. "Many children can be afraid of firefighters when they're fully suited up," said Collins. "It's incredibly important that children understand firefighters are there to help, and that kids have no reason to be scared of them." In addition to emergency services, students also learn bike and vehicle safety as trainers teach them to wear helmets while riding skateboards, bicycles, and anything with wheels as well as how to cross the street by looking both ways twice.

For poison identification, students learn that although liquids might look similar, they may not be the same thing. "For example, a white liquid is not always milk," said Collins. "At younger ages, we teach students to immediately find an adult and tell them if they see something they think might be poisonous."

PeaceHealth provides training free-of-charge to elementary schools throughout the area as part of their Gear Up Games program.
PeaceHealth provides training free-of-charge to elementary schools throughout the area as part of their Gear Up Games program. 

The Woodland Primary School training was PeaceHealth's first time visiting Woodland, having been invited by Malinda Huddleston, Associate Administrator for the primary school, and Milagros Wells, a foreign language teacher at Woodland High School. "Both Ms. Huddleston and Ms. Wells were instrumental in bringing us in as they wanted to offer injury prevention training for Woodland's students," said Collins. The training event covers two days with nearly 300 students receiving lessons. PeaceHealth provides the training free-of-charge with the cost covered from sponsorships and donations made to the program. "We also want to give special thanks to Cowlitz Fire District 1; even the chief attended the program to speak with the kids," said Collins.

Collins has run training events like these for seven years. "We've seen a decrease in drownings and devastating head injuries to children throughout Cowlitz County thanks, in part, to this program," said Collins. "Parents respond incredibly well when they realize what their children learn at the event; we often receive phone calls afterward because children teach their parents the importance of car safety and other lessons."