Future Reflections Fall 1991

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Reprinted from the Overbrook School for the Blind newsletter, Towers, Spring/Summer, 1991.

Overbrook students recently added another "first" to the school's long history of accomplishments when they became the first visually or hearing impaired people to compete in the Red Cross Youth First Aid Competition.

Not only did they compete at Ursinus College, in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, they also placed 7th out of 18 teams in the standard first aid segment. Rebecca Ilniski, David Hoppman, Joey Lugo, and Brian Bauer, following the same rules as other teams, were evaluated on administering aid to people suffering three mock emergencies (heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and shock; frostbite, hypothermia, and shock; and a broken ankle, cut, and shock from a fall off of a roof). At Ursinus, the students competed in the 3 twenty-minute mock emergencies against other students from Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Washington D.C.. The students also tied for 30th place out of 103 teams throughout the country which took part in the competition on March 16.

There were few concessions for Rebecca and David, who are blind, Joey, who is deaf, and Brian, who is severely visually impaired. Rebecca, the team captain, read the scenarios in Braille and then read them aloud to David and Brian and signed the main points to Joey. The team used a Braille writer to record their findings on the injured people.

The students were trained by residential counselor Toney Whitner. According to Mr. Whitner, the students have demonstrated that disabled individuals can learn and perform such techniques as well as anyone else.

Mr. Whitner, a Red Cross cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor for the last eight years and first aid instructor for the last seven years, worked with the students two to three times a week for close to five months' training for the competition. However, before they could even start they had to be taught the basic first aid course and be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid. "It was a lot of work," said Mr. Whiner. But it paid off: the students are the only certified Overbrook students, and Rebecca scored 100% on both her certifying tests.

"It was a good experience," David said. "That's one of those things you hope you don't have to use, but it's good to learn just in case."

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