Written by Barb Powell
The person in the red "First Responder" t-shirt may be the first to arrive for a minor scrape or bruise, or to remind you to drink lots of water and wear a hat in the sun.
And don't even get them started about proper footwear.
Roaming the Purdue University campus during the UCC's National Youth Event (NYE) this week is a First Responder Team making sure participants stay safe and healthy. The team is led by Barbara Baylor, the UCC's minister for health care justice. Baylor also works closely with Purdue University police and fire officials as well as local agencies. "They have all been wonderful to work with," she said.
"We're seeing a lot of heat exhaustion," Baylor said, which is often accompanied by nausea and headaches. With the high temperatures and the amount of walking required between event spaces, many participants are not drinking enough water and not getting enough rest. Baylor added with a smile, "And youth think they’re invincible."
In addition to heat exhaustion, Baylor says the team is seeing a lot of joint and muscle issues, probably due to the walking. And the flip-flops. And the bare feet. "We treated a young man who played soccer with no shoes," she remarked.
The First Responder volunteers are grouped into two person teams who provide coverage on campus during the day and on-call coverage in the evenings. Each team member has some formal health training, from first-aid and CPR certification to registered nurse. Most members are also attending NYE with their conference or church youth group.
Finding a First Responder is as easy as locating a volunteer with their red t-shirt (often driving a golf-cart with a cooler of water and a first-aid kit) or calling the phone number each NYE participant has stamped on their wristbands.
Being a First Responder is serious business (though driving the golf carts looks like a lot of fun). Baylor and her team understand that working with youth involves special challenges and requires some special consideration. Julia Murray, a school nurse from the UCC's New York Conference, knows that being away from home means someone is not reminding these teens to drink lots of water, not to forget medications, or even wear a hat in the sun. "Our main goal is attention and treatment," she said.
Here are some practical tips for making your stay at NYE healthy:
- Think about your health challenges before acting (do you REALLY think you can do a standing jump over a three-foot wall?)
- Wear proper footwear (flip-flops are great for the beach but not so good for walking from Earhart Dining Hall to Elliot Music Hall)
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to prevent de-hydration (First Responder Glenn Svetnicko, Director of Outdoor Ministries in the UCC's Wisconsin Conference, adds, "Clear pee is happy pee.")
- Wear a hat when outdoors (especially during service projects)
- Listen to adults and follow rules and guidelines for your activity (read activity descriptions carefully for what you can expect)
- Don’t be afraid to ask an adult a question about your health (if you don't feel well, let someone know)
- Eat some fruit (it's delicious, nutritious, and helps keep you hydrated)