By Blair Baumgartner
SYRACUSE — Camp H.E.R.O. put on by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, kicked off Tuesday morning, July 19, at Blue Barn Berry Farm and Event Venue in Syracuse.
“We are very fortunate to have over 105 kids sign up for our camp every year and learn about the different aspects of public service. We created this camp three years ago,” said Shane Bucher, chief deputy for the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, who is heading the camp this year.
“Today we focus on teaching the kids about the different aspects of emergency medical services, including how to stop a bleed, administer CPR and first-aid, and familiarize them with truck and air emergency services,” he said.
“Times have changed and there are not as many people getting involved in public service, so we hope that this might get some kids interested in eventually serving in the long term. This also teaches them that when they see a fireman or a police officer, or EMT, that it’s OK,” he said.
“Today we focus on emergency medical services and what kids can do to help in an emergency situation. Tomorrow the fire department will show the kids how they extricate someone from a vehicle. They will also get fire extinguisher training and get a chance to operate the fire hoses. Syracuse Fire Department will also show them how to use a ladder,” he said.
“The last day is law enforcement day. The S.W.A.T. team will set up three different stations, including how to breach a building, night vision and suspect apprehension. The dive team will be here with members of the sheriff’s department, Warsaw Police Department and Warsaw Fire Department,” said Bucher.
A Lutheran Health Network Critical Care Transport Airbus H130 helicopter and team were on hand showing the campers the helicopter and talking about what they do on a day-to-day basis. Todd Schindler, a flight paramedic, said, “We have ventilators and IV pumps on board as well as a supply of O negative blood. We put the blood through a machine to warm its temperature to 100 degrees. We are basically a flying emergency room.” The helicopter travels faster than 150 mph and at an altitude of 3,000 feet.
Patrick Smith, a certified flight registered nurse, said, “We pride ourselves on always sending the closest available helicopter. We always do what’s best for the patient.”
Bucher told a story about a former camper whose sister was in a bicycle accident and was bleeding pretty badly and needed emergency care. He applied what he learned at Camp H.E.R.O. and was able to apply pressure to ease the bleeding until emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene.
Camp counselors all wear the same shirts during camp so kids can’t identify them and then wear their full class A uniforms at the end during camp graduation. They try to make it fun for the kids. Bucher said this year they will have 9,000 water balloons for a water balloon fight.
On the last day, they will conduct a firearms safety course with an Airsoft gun. A Kosciusko County Jail Chemical Addiction Program graduate from Milford will speak to the kids. Finally, the camp will end with graduation certificates and special awards being presented to the kids.