Preparing kids to respond in an emergency: What they need to know

POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Sometimes kids are the first line of response when there is an emergency. But are young children prepared to act quickly and call 911?

Police believe every child should know how to dial 911 and what to expect on the other line.

In Sharon on Saturday, a 5-year-old called 911 after his parents overdosed. Thanks to the boy’s quick thinking, both of his parents survived.

Police said the child was calm and collected when they arrived on the scene, helping them throughout the entire process.

They said more than ever before, they’re seeing more kids having to respond to emergencies as a result of the drug epidemic.

Teaching young kids what to do in an emergency is part of Maggie Schuster’s job as a kindergarten teacher at Poland Union Elementary.

With the strict curriculum teachers have to follow, several programs teaching kids how to handle emergencies had to be cut. Schuster said discussing 911 and what to do if someone is hurt is something Poland teachers try to fit in as often as possible.

“The address and the phone number are very important to learn.”

She said if her students don’t know that information, she starts with what they do know and builds on that.

“A lot of our teachers use creative ways in transitioning from station to station or activity to activity to instill those phone numbers and addresses into their students,” Principal Michael Massucci said.

Both Massucci and Schuster said the child’s knowledge also relies on their parents, who should go over it with them at home. They said the 5-year-old from Sharon is exceptional for his age.

“Mom, and dad, and maybe some extended relatives helped but I also would think that his kindergarten or the school, wherever he was attending, did what they could to help,” Massucci said. “Some kids just have it together and he certainly seems like he does.”

Schuster said the boy is mature for his age.

“A lot of kids have been taught, thankfully, by their parents the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. They know where to go, when to go, and who to ask for help…Sometimes when you’re in that position, the child won’t know.”

Her class contains a mix of 5- and 6-year-olds.

“Thankfully, no one’s been in that situation but I think given that situation, I think some of the could [call 911]. At least in my room. I can’t say that for all 5- and 6-year-olds,” she said.

Children should know how to answer the following questions:

  • Where are you calling from? / Where do you live?
  • What type of emergency is this?
  • Who needs help?
  • Is the person awake and breathing?

Let them know it’s okay to be frightened but to try to stay calm and give the dispatcher as much information as possible.

They should also know not to hang up until the person on the other end says it’s okay.

The Sharon boy is in the care of relatives while Children and Youth Services investigates. His parents have been charged with endangering the welfare of children.

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