HOUGHTON - Around 80 local sixth-graders are about to be handy in an emergency.
They're taking part in the 14th annual CAMP 911, held at Mercy EMS headquarters near the Houghton County Memorial Airport. The camp is sponsored by Aspirus Keweenaw Aspirus, Portage Health and Mercy EMS.
It was designed to get students interested in emergency medical services, fire and police careers in a time when those numbers were dwindling, said Camp 911 coordinator Ann Cleary. There's also the purpose of making children safer via sessions on fire, Internet, wilderness and car safety, among others.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Max Vadnais of Atlantic Mine sits behind the wheel of a hovercraft belonging to Bootjack Fire & Rescue at the 14th annual Camp 911 at Mercy EMS headquarters near the Houghton County Memorial Airport. The two-day camp is designed to teach children about working in first responder fields and about numerous safety skills.
Sessions also include training such as performing CPR and making splints.
By the time they're finished, the campers should be able to do basic first aid techniques if they're first on the scene, Cleary said.
"You don't have to be built like Popeye and be a 30-year-old," she said. "You can be 11 and save a life."
The knowledge also spreads beyond the campers, as many of them go home and teach their parents and siblings. The camp has gone on long enough that many of the original counselors have come back as junior and then senior counselors; one is now in her third year of nursing school, Cleary said.
Tuesday morning, the campers conducted vehicle tours of several law enforcement and first responder agencies.
Trooper Matt Djerf of the Michigan State Police Calumet Post demonstrated the importance of safety belts. Ninety percent of people who are ejected from vehicles in crashes wind up dying, he said.
As a visual aid, he simulated a rollover accident with a spinning truck and dummies. Buckled, they were shaken but still in the vehicle, he said; unbuckled, it wasn't long before they were flung from the car entirely.
"How long did it take him to fly out?" he asked.
"Three seconds," a camper shouted.
Members of Bootjack Fire & Rescue showed campers its hovercraft. Traveling 4 to 5 inches above the surface, it can travel 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Campers might have seen it being tested out on Torch Lake in the fall. It's typically requested to respond to assignments one or two times a year, said Greg Magnuson of the department.
"Last year, we got a dog out of the ice," he said.
Darren Helminen, 11, of Hubbell, called the camp "pretty sweet." So far, he said, his highlight was the hovercraft. But he was also looking at going into the smokehouse.
The camp has a number of organizations volunteering their time, Cleary said, including: Bootjack Fire & Rescue, Calumet Township Fire & Rescue, Dial Help, Houghton Police Department, Houghton County Sheriff's Department, Houghton County Memorial Airport, Hurontown Fire & Rescue, Michigan State Police, Reserve Officer Training Corps and Upper Peninsula Power Co.
"These are volunteers, and they have regular jobs, and these are the people getting up at 2 a.m. to help you. ... I like to see it celebrated," Cleary said.