Learning from EMTs
K Club teaches kids volunteering, engagement
Third- and fourth-graders got a special chance to help carry their “injured” teacher during Dodger Academy Monday afternoon — and even got to work the horn and sirens on the ambulance.
Dodger Academy Program Director Ashley Canto wasn’t really hurt, but she was willing to lie on the floor as EMTs from the Southwest Webster Ambulance Service strapped her to a spinal board and picked her up for a special presentation to the K Club, as kids learned about emergency responders and about volunteering.
“I’m an EMT, and I volunteer,” Rick Vinsand told the students. “They don’t pay me to be an EMT, I just do it because I want to help people.
“We might be sitting at home watching TV or having dinner, but our pager goes off, my phone will go off, and it will tell me Butler School needs an EMT right away, please send an ambulance.”
Southwest Webster, which serves an area including Gowrie, Callender, and Harcourt but not Fort Dodge, was invited specifically because they’re a volunteer service, said Julie Pingel, of Noon Kiwanis.
The Kiwanis have been running the K Club at Dodger Academy for about three years now, Pingel said.
“We talk about volunteering, about giving back to the community and the school, and just making them aware of things,” Pingel said.
Kids can get outside their bubble and widen their experience through the club, she said.
Pingel and the students explained to the EMTs what they’ve done recently: They volunteered for the Almost Home animal shelter, playing with dogs and cats to help them get more acclimated to children. They’ve bussed tables at Pizza Ranch, handing out balloon animals to earn extra tips, with all the money going to the shelter.
They’ve also rung bells for the Salvation Army, and helped pack food for “Feed my Starving Children.”
Representatives from those groups have come in to speak to the kids, Pingel said, and afterwards they talk about what they could do to help.
“Just learning there’s organizations there, and maybe you don’t have money to donate or food to give, but you can learn how to give your time,” she said.
The EMTs Vinsand, his wife Julie Vinsand, and Kevin Eagen walked through what they do for their volunteer work.
“We’re going to pretend that Mrs. Canto here was on a ladder, and she fell down,” Rick Vinsand said. “She was trying to fix a light, she fell down and she needs an ambulance.”
Canto was a good sport in all this, perhaps because Rick and Julie Vinsand are her parents.
Rick Vinsand talked about how the kids would call 911 and give accurate information to the dispatcher. He talked about how EMTs survey the situation when they arrive on a scene, how they get more information about the accident, how they decide whether or not to call the paramedics from UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center for more help, and how they would protect Canto’s neck and back while loading her into an ambulance.
The kids also got to tour the ambulance, and learned how to run the siren.
The K Club takes third- and fourth-graders within the Dodger Academy. Dodger Academy is an afterschool program for kindergarten through fourth-grade students from all Fort Dodge public schools. The academy includes a snack and a “power hour” of homework assistance, along with other enrichment activities.
Formerly known as BLAST!, the program has been around for more than 15 years.