Emergency prep trainers urge individuals to take initiative

Roy Allen demonstrates what to do to help someone who is choking. His sister-in-law, Kathy Allen, of Franklin, assists him

There’s a reason Chris Siepert of Franklin attended the Franklin Stake Crisis Simulation class in April. 

“I am a Teton Dam survivor,” he said when Kevin Olsen, Franklin County EMT, asked “What do I do?” in case of an emergency.

The deluge “destroyed our house and all of our storage was gone instantly. I learned from that experience that we need to have a plan to let our family know we’re okay.”

Seiper said she was “visiting my mom in Idaho Falls. I stopped at the store on the way home. That’s when I learned about the dam breaking. I was able to go there and found that my house was gone. I had to depend on other people to take care of me and feed me and my husband and we had three young children, 7 and 6 year old twins at the time. It was scary!” 

Olsen, and Roy Allen, retired EMS, of the Pocatello Fire Dept. answered questions and demonstrated how to bind a wound, administer CPR, as well as other first-aid procedures. 

The event was organized by Tauma Noel, Franklin Stake Preparedness Coordinator, and co-chair Jennifer Wallis, the stake’s provident living coordinator. 

“We’re in an area that has a lot of older people who are prone to heart attacks and a possible stroke, what is the best course of action to keep them comfortable until help comes?” asked Noel.

“Most counties have formed an emergency committee, who will have a plan to use resources and services and what the process should be to implement the plan to have it work well,” said Olsen. But he said everyone should have a book on first-aid and read it to know what to do. He recommended the  Boy Scout Handbook and the Boy Scout First-Aid Merit Badge books as especially good resources. They are available at the Trapper Trails office in Logan.

“They are an excellent and superb resource to have available.,” he said.

Erin Munson, of Franklin, was living in Williston, Florida, in 2004 and weathered a hurricane there. “We had a ward plan. We knew who the trained people were. The ward members took care of each other. They knew who would need help and who could help them,” she said. 

“I feel there needs to be better communication in the wards and towns. In Florida we literally had our guns loaded all the time because of looting. We are too comfortable here. I feel we need to be more prepared and not be so comfortable,” she said.

Noel, who attends preparation classes offered by the sheriff and fire departments in Cache Valley said a lot of people think they can go to local chapels to be sheltered and fed. 

“There is no food stored in the chapels. With no power at the chapel, there are no lights, no cooking availability and after a short duration there will be no sanitation accommodations. In the winter it will be cold, dark and there will be no food,” outlined Noel. “Preparedness starts at home. You are just as good to stay at home as there won’t be food or power at any of the chapels. We need to be more proactive here and to be informed by Franklin County on the procedures they have in place because help from Cache Valley stops at the Utah-Idaho border.”

It was noted that people on oxygen are especially impacted if the power goes out.

Allen emphasized the simulation’s participants “ not wait” to be prepared. 

“You need to have a 1-2-year food storage plan so that you can have storage for yourself and others as well,” he said. With training, people don’t have to be a doctor or an EMT to survive, he added. “You can put your own supplies together to have at home or to carry in the car. Go online to see how to put together a 96-hour kit as well as a medical emergency kit. Pull together your own resources. You decide ‘I’m going to get ready.’ You need to train yourself.”

Allen said the first thing to remember is to not be afraid, and the second is that people do not have to spend hundreds of dollars on supplies all at once. 

“Do it step-by-step. Set a goal to have it done by three months or six months, etc., and keep adding to it. ...Examination gloves, triple antibiotic, blanket, towels, and a pocket knife are also necessary items to have in the kit,” Olsen said.

Olsen added “And don’t panic.” He then demonstrated first aid techniques, such as how to set a broken arm by using sticks, magazines, or a towel binding those items with duct tape, masking tape, or scotch tape.

“If someone has difficulty breathing, take care of that first. Breathing is more important then stopping the bleeding or setting a bone. Get that airway opened up,” Olsen said. He had several large cloth bags with supplies in them that he pulled out of to show different types of supplies that can be used. Feminine products can be used as bandages. 

While modern information may include some diffences in emergency procedures, it is pretty much the same information in the old books. “Just take action,” said Allen. 

“Don’t wait to start CPR until an EMT can take over when they get there. The important thing is to get started,” he said. “I encourage you, your spouse, your children, and grandchildren to take a class to learn how to do CPR,” Allen said.

“This class was a good refresher course to remind us what can be done to help the community. A lot of the information tonight brought back to me the scouting training I’ve had over the years. It’s good to have a review of these procedures often.,” said Mark Dietrich who attended the class. 

Marie Bodily, the Preparation Specialist in the Whitney Ward, said one of the biggest things she learned was to get prepared. “It’s part of what we’re supposed to be doing,” she said. William Bodily was able to learn CPR at the training.