Woodland Middle School partners with local paramedics to teach students emergency preparedness

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Woodland Middle School arranged for paramedics to visit the school and educate students about emergency preparedness including how to call 911, provide an introduction to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and to demonstrate how to handle a variety of common injuries and emergency situations.

Kanessa Thompson, a paramedic and Communications Coordinator for Clark County EMS, teaches students how to perform CPR
Kanessa Thompson, a paramedic and Communications Coordinator for Clark County EMS, teaches students how to perform CPR

Kanessa Thompson, a paramedic and Communications Coordinator for Clark County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Ben Huebschman, a paramedic for Multnomah County EMS in Oregon and a coach for the Woodland High School football team, visited the middle school for a day to teach kids the importance of emergency preparedness. Students formed groups to take turns learning about emergency situations and how to perform a variety of first aid skills including CPR, splinting, and how to approach a situation where someone has been injured. Thompson and Huebschman also demonstrated equipment paramedics bring on-scene when someone calls 911 and gave students tours of an ambulance.

Glen Flanagan, the middle school’s Physical Education teacher, invited the paramedics to visit the school after speaking with Huebschman while he was coaching the high school’s football team. “We were putting together our first aid curriculum when I spoke to Ben about visiting our classes,” said Flanagan. “He was excited about the idea and arranged for his colleague, Kanessa, to come on the visit, too, as she has significant experience educating kids and the public.”

Kanessa Thompson wanted to be serve the community since she was six-years-old watching her mom work as a volunteer firefighter
Kanessa Thompson wanted to be serve the community since she was six-years-old watching her mom work as a volunteer firefighter

Thompson wanted to help the community since she was a little girl. “When I was six years old, my mom was a volunteer firefighter, and although I always thought I wanted to become a firefighter, the first time I went into a burning building during training, I knew it wasn’t for me,” she said. “Remembering seeing my mom help people made me want me to continue to pursue public service so I became a paramedic, instead.”

Thompson’s communications responsibilities as the county’s Communications Coordinator offer additional opportunities for her to reach the community and teach new emergency services techniques. “Community education is awesome since it gives me the chance to meet with kids and adults in a variety of locations like schools, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, hospitals, and retirement homes,” she said. “The biggest piece of advice I give kids is to teach them not to be afraid of paramedics or emergency services personnel – a family member or friend may be sick and although it can be intimidating, these professionals are here to help.”

Ben Huebschman, a paramedic for Multnomah County and Woodland High School football coach, demonstrates some of the equipment emergency medical services professionals bring on-site
Ben Huebschman, a paramedic for Multnomah County and Woodland High School football coach, demonstrates some of the equipment emergency medical services professionals bring on-site

Huebschman coaches Woodland High School’s football team in his off-time, but when he’s on the clock, he’s saving lives and helping the community as a paramedic for Multnomah County. “I find it very fulfilling to help people in need,” he said. “Most people might only call 911 once or twice in their lives, so that time when they need me is a key interaction in their lives.”

Huebschman holds public service and civic duty as driving forces throughout his life. Prior to becoming a paramedic, he served in the military and volunteered for EMS during college. “I was raised in a family dedicated to public service as my mom was a teacher and my dad served in the Army Corps of Engineers,” he explained. “I truly enjoy public interaction and thrive on being held to a higher standard.”

Sharing his knowledge has become increasingly important throughout Huebschman’s career. “I want to raise awareness with kids that these services exist and not to be afraid of first responders,” he said. “In fact, middle school students can even volunteer and become involved with their local EMS providers.”

Students enjoyed going on a tour of an ambulance brought by Thompson and Huebschman
Students enjoyed going on a tour of an ambulance brought by Thompson and Huebschman

The middle school teaching staff emphasizes the importance of emergency preparedness to their students by partnering with outside organizations to provide unique educational experiences like this visit. “First-hand experiences with hands-on lessons really benefit our students by providing them with lifelong skills,” said Kelly Beasley, one of the middle school’s Physical Education teachers. “Having professionals visit our school really helps kids familiarize themselves with emergency services and get used to the concept of calling 911; you never know when a family member might have a medical emergency where these kids will need to step up to help.”

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