Camp introduces kids to new challenges

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BENNINGTON — The man gripped the tourniquet, tying it around the dummy arm.

The fluid, dyed red to simulate blood, stopped flowing out of the "wound" near the elbow.

"He lost half a soda can of blood," said Charles Putnam, an advanced EMT with the Bennington Rescue Squad. "And that was in less than half a minute."

Another member of the rescue squad, paramedic John Wright, demonstrated the tying of the tourniquet for the group of about 11 kids, part of the yearly New Experience Camp put on by the Bennington Police Department, the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, the Bennington Fire Department and the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center.

People can lose one liter of blood — slightly more than a quart — in less than five minutes, said Katie Vandale, a paramedic and captain of the Bennington Rescue Squad.

Vandale told the group that this is an important skill for them to have — someone could be injured around them, or they could even deal with an active shooter situation.

"If people know ... that could save someone's life," she said.

Tourniquet training — "stop the bleed" — was one of several activities planned for a whirlwind week at the all-day camp for 41 middle- and high-schoolers. The camp, which costs $250 per person, is largely supported by donations.

Earlier that day, kids learned how to extract people from crashed cars, using "cutters and spreaders," commonly known as the Jaws of Life, said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette.

Doucette participated in the crashing of the cars — a silver Oldsmobile and a black Honda Civic — Monday morning.

"I knew I could break the axle on the car," he said.

Both cars were donated.

The students wore firefighter uniforms — mostly too large on them — to open the cars up, as if they were extracting people from inside.

"We want to reach out to these kids at a young age ... and show them that police officers, firefighters, EMS, we're all normal people, good people," Doucette said of the camp.

They also want to show kids the opportunities that exist in law enforcement.

There's also a lot of turmoil around the country in relation to law enforcement, Doucette said. "We want kids to know we're genuine people," he said.

The camp has been running for almost 10 years. Initially, only 20 kids were accepted, but the program has since grown to 41 this year.

They kids are divided into two groups: one for 11- to 13-year-olds, and one for 14- and 15-year-olds.

The week is full of activities, including zip-lining, whitewater rafting, canoeing and driving Humvees with goggles that simulate impairment. According to the organizers, the camp is designed to instill some of the basic techniques used in constructive decision-making.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday involve gun safety training, in preparation for Thursday's time at the Hale Mountain Gun Club in Shaftsbury.

"They learn a lot," said Brian Howe, a volunteer with the camp who is also a teacher and a dispatcher with the police department. "I think that's the most important."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BEN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.

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