My name is Caitlyn Richter, and I serve as the AmeriCorps Community Preparedness Coordinator at the American Red Cross in Wenatchee through the Washington Service Corps. One of the main parts of my position is coordinating and giving preparedness presentations to youth and adults in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties.
My photo shows me teaching the Passport to Preparedness curriculum to a class of fourth graders at Lee Elementary in East Wenatchee.
Teaching preparedness is always an adventure. Sometimes I present to adults, sometimes to youth, sometimes groups of five, sometimes as many as 150, sometimes one quick presentation, and sometimes a multi-day series of teaching. The material can be serious, as we discuss how to stay safe in what can be awful circumstances. But the point isn’t to scare everyone into compliance – the point is to educate and empower youth and adults so that if they do fall into an emergency or disaster situation, they feel prepared.
So what does this look like? During Basic First Aid for Youth, students laugh as they see their friends wrapped up in bandages or tied up in slings, but we make sure everyone knows how to call 911 and they learn the basics of helping someone who is injured. During Passport to Preparedness, kids joke about bringing their Xbox along in case of evacuation, but they learn which items in their lives are the most necessary and which could be left behind in an emergency. And during Survival Scenarios, students put themselves in harrowing situations such as earthquakes, home fires, and tsunamis, and are able to talk through what actions to take to keep themselves safe and to help others.
Preparedness is important, and I’m pleased to be able to dedicate my service time to the education of others. As someone who has experienced a home fire, I hope that the students never need to use anything I tell them – but I know that if they need the knowledge, it is there.