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January 14, 2013

Scouts get real-world training

Competition tests them on wounds, poisons and more

TRAVERSE CITY — The ice breaks, man in water!

About 100 Boy Scout patrols and venture crews have 10 minutes to plan and implement a rescue, safely extract and care for the victim.

The Ninth Winterlochen First Aid Competition imparts lifesaving basics with real-world scenarios. Volunteer victims are in no danger, but the simulation is as realistic as possible to boost the learning and practice.

On Saturday, scouts in groups of five or six will rotate through 20 stations to learn hands-on practical experience in first aid and rescue skills.

Hosted by the Interlochen Explorer Post No. 20, the bi-annual event will teach everything from treating hypo/hyperthermia or a puncture wound to performing CPR to treating broken bones or lacerations.

"It provides training to youth and a fun outdoors day," said Mark Ewing, a unit-serving executive of the President Ford Council. "They're learning some major skills that will help them the rest of their lives."

So far 16 troops signed up to participate, but organizers will welcome up to four more for the all-day event. Participants should be scouts ages 12-16 although Webelos with good attention spans, and a supervising adult may be considered.

The Interlochen Venture Crew first hosted the educational gathering in 1996 and has offered it regularly to the scouting community since. Adviser Michael Coonrod, an Eagle Scout and longtime scout volunteer, believes first aid training embodies the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared."

"First aid is a really important aspect of the Boy Scouts and we drill it frequently," said Coonrod, who has been involved in scouting for more than five decades. "It's life skills."

Judges will be posted at each of the stations and will spend five minutes with each team providing feedback on their teamwork, problem solving and technical skills. At the end of the day, prizes will be given for best first aid skills, teamwork and team spirit, for example. Scouts will also receive a participation ribbon and a 2013 event patch.

Four of the 20 stations will demonstrate an aspect of first aid, covering topics of poison treatment, carbon monoxide poisoning, an ambulance tour and a disability sensitivity talk.

"It's a wonderful way of building individual and leadership skills," said Coonrod of the Winterlochen First Aid Competition.

Troops will use their Klondike sled to travel between stations following a path that winds through woods and along Duck Lake and the Betsie River. The day also will feature a sled race along the Winterlochen's "Iditarod Trail" obstacle course. The fastest team at the racing station will also receive a prize.

The United States Coast Guard and Green Lake Township Fire Department will give rescue demonstrations at day's end.

And scouts will be exhausted but satisfied, Coonrod noted.

"They've been busy and challenged all day," he said.

For more information on the Ninth Winterlochen First Aid Competition, call Michael Coonrod at 276-6439. Troops are still welcome to attend. Spectators are also welcome to watch the proceedings, which will be held between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., on the Duck Lake side of the Interlochen Arts Academy property.

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