How I Brought My Staff Training to the Streets of New York

by Andrew Paull

Walking to the subway last week, I saw an elderly man collapse on the sidewalk only a few feet in front of me. Unsure of the severity of the circumstances, I went to his side and realized he appeared unconscious. After he did not come to, I knew this man needed medical attention. I saw a woman on her phone and asked if she was calling 911, which she thankfully already was. I checked his airway, breathing and circulation. He had a pulse and was breathing, but with difficulty.

By this time, a sizable crowd had gathered and started asking questions. I continued to stay with the man until the EMTs arrived six minutes later. At this point he was no longer breathing and an EMT began compressions. They attached an AED, but it did not shock because a pulse was registered. An ambulance took him away and I gave a statement to a police officer.

A week later, I have no way of knowing the fate of that elderly man. My best guess is that he had a stroke, but to what degree I am not sure. I don’t know his name, and I will most likely never know, but I’ve thought of him daily since this occurred.

Even though my role was not gigantic, as the EMTs took control upon their arrival, I still feel I helped this man in this situation entirely because of the safety, CPR, and first aid training I’ve received as a result of working at summer camp. In the four summers I spent on staff at URJ Camp Kalsman, and one as a staff member for Mitzvah Corps of the South, a large portion of staff training covered the proper response in emergency situations and what you can do to help. I remembered phrases I’ve heard repeated over and over about how to remain calm and think clearly. Even though I was scared and those six minutes felt like an eternity, I felt confident I knew what to do.

This is one example of how the skills you’re taught and acquire at camp are meant to stretch beyond just the summer. As URJ Camp staff members begin their countdowns to camp, my advice is to keep in mind the lessons of staff training week. Even if you’ve ran through the fire the last five years in a row, remember how training prepares you for what may lie ahead. You never know when the skills you learn at camp will be put to use, even to possibly save a life.

Andrew Paull is the Youth Programs Coordinator at Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, N.Y. and the incoming Head Resident Advisor at the URJ Kutz Camp.

Originally posted at The Clipboard: News from Our Camps and Israel Programs

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2 Responses to “How I Brought My Staff Training to the Streets of New York”

  1. dcc

    CAMP IS THE BEST. Nice work and mazel tov! It is clear that 99% of camp training is useful — the running through fire is fum thought.

  2. avatar
    Daniel Plotkin Reply May 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Keeping my own head clear even when everyone else is losing theirs is one of the key life skills I learned first as a counselor at OSRUI and then as a Unit Head at GUCI. The skills one learns as a camp staff member are truly life skills and URJ camps do a great job of training their staff.

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