Merit Badge University boy scouts learn first aid from Pittsburgh EMTs

Credit: Sihan Dong Credit: Sihan Dong Credit: Sihan Dong Credit: Sihan Dong

Local boy scouts recently visited Carnegie Mellon University to learn important and potentially life-saving first aid skills. In a demonstration, one scout showed the technique he learned to apply multiple chest compressions to a training doll, while two other scouts prepared an Automated External Defibrillator machine and pretended to call for help.

Every year, Carnegie Mellon University partners with Merit Badge University (MBU) to allow over 200 Pittsburgh boy scouts to utilize the campus in order to learn important skills such as public speaking, chemistry, aviation, and engineering. The annual two-day event, hosted by Carnegie Mellon’s Alpha Phi Omega Kappa chapter, offers over 15 of the necessary courses the boy scouts need to take in order to earn their merit badges. Successfully completing these courses helps the scouts fulfill some of the 21 required merit badges they need to be promoted to Eagle Scouts.

This year, local Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) volunteered to teach the scouts’ first aid course. This partnership with Pittsburgh EMTs means that not only do the scouts get to learn from the officials who have to be prepared to perform these skills everyday, but the EMTs also get to teach more people these important skills which benefits them as well.

According to Mark Pinchalk, it is helpful if public bystanders are trained in performing CPR so that they are able to apply these skills while the EMTs are traveling to the area. “Any kind of CPR, it doesn’t have to be perfect, has been shown to improve survival,” Pinchalk said.

The scouts were also trained in recognizing signs of a heart attack, stroke, and hypothermia. They also learned how to stop a person from bleeding.

Scoutmaster Scott Schrecongost states that this training can prepare the scouts to be prepared to be of help in a variety of situations, such as when going camping, when playing with other kids, or even being at home.

Beth McKinstry, the scouts’ troop leader, has seen how these skills can be applied in the most unlikely of situations. While her son was a 16 year-old Eagle Scout, he was able to help a woman who was going into shock from a car accident. When he came home, he told his mom that he was only able to help the woman because of the skills he learned as a boy scout.

McKinstry says her favorite part about being a troop leader is seeing the young boy scouts transform into men.

Akindele Davies, the Head MBU Chair of Alpha Phi Omega, Kappa chapter, along with Karen Kim and Lillian Sheng, his co-chairs, was responsible for organizing MBU’s visit to Carnegie Mellon. This included recruiting counselors, ordering supplies, and setting up an event schedule. “Organizing MBU has taught me a lot about event/project planning, dealing with adversity, and the importance of teamwork,” says Davies.

Most of all, he is glad that Alpha Phi Omega is able to allow the scouts to get the opportunity to work on their merit badges, since they contact Carnegie Mellon professors to volunteer as counselors for the scouts for subjects they need to have knowledge on to earn their merit badges.

Chemistry is one of the most popular subjects for the scouts, according to McKinstry. This is taught by Gizelle Sherwood, the Merit Badge Counselor for chemistry, as well as an assistant professor for chemistry at Carnegie Mellon. The appeal? “They get to blow things up,” said McKinstry.

Davies adds that “the cool thing about this class is that scouts not only get to learn about chemistry straight from a university chemistry professor, but they also get to do so in a university chemistry lab.”

Alphi Phi Omega would like to thank "Adrienne Borkowski from the SLICE office, representatives from the local BSA district Tom Strong and Ron Buckner; our chapter advisors John Papinchak and Conrad Zapanta; all of our Merit Badge Counselors: Bruce Pollock, Carl Bolton, Gary Mosher, Jeffrey Hansen, Giselle Sherwood, Robert Warner, John Buzzie, Dave Hochendoner, William Klimek, Scott Schrengost, Jo Starr, Ida Chow, Patricia Kelly, and Femi Olukoya. Last but not least, we'd like to thank all the Kappa Chapter brother who volunteered to help out the day of the event. Without all of these people MBU would not have been possible."

Information regarding Merit Badge University’s next visit to Carnegie Mellon will be out later this year.