John Moller, 12, of Boy Scout Troop 270 in Newtown learns how to operate a fire hose with help from Pat Sniffin, the Danbury Fire Department’s communications officer, during a program Saturday at Danbury Airport.
DANBURY — Fires, explosions, road accidents, the perils of
fallout from weapons of mass destruction.
For more than 200 area Boy Scouts, their motto of “Be Prepared’’ took on a special meaning Saturday at a weekend camporee designed to teach them how to deal with emergencies.
“It’s a way of studying a whole spectrum of responses to accidents that gives the boys a real hands-on opportunity to understand them,’’ said Wade Anderson, an advisor for the Order of the Arrow, a scouting national honor society that hosted the program.
From their tents pitched at Danbury Airport, scouts from eight local towns fanned out to City Hall, the police department on Main Street and to areas of the airport to study strategies for responding to crises.
By the end of the program, most of the boys, ages 10 to 15, were expected to have earned enough points to qualify for their emergency preparedness merit badge.
“The badge is a required merit badge for Eagle scouts,’’ Anderson said. “During the camporee we’ve had merit badge counselors on hand to help the boys study the requirements.’’
The badge requires the boys to be able to recognize a potential emergency situation, prevent it or react to it.
At City Hall, the boys were given a tour of the city’s emergency operations center and allowed to use a ham radio unit to call up other scouting groups.
From there, the scouts went to the police department where officers demonstrated how emergency response units handle 911 situations and how the special investigations unit operates.
“It was pretty interesting,’’ said 16-year-old Ron Kurtz, a student at New Fairfield High School and a member of Danbury Troop 33.
Kurtz, who already holds lifesaving and lifeguard badges, has just started on his emergency preparedness badge.
“I think this is a great way of gaining information because you can actually go out and see things for yourself instead of just being told about it,’’ said Kurtz.
At the airport, veteran firefighters Patrick Sniffin and Capt. Geoff Herald demonstrated some of the city’s fire department equipment, including its decontamination unit.
“I told them about weapons of mass destruction and their impact and the effects of an airborne chemical release,’’ said Herald, who took the boys on a dry run through the unit. “I think it probably gave them a better idea of just what’s involved.’’
The training program ended with simulations of accidents that called on the scouts to deal with first-aid issues and other simulated emergencies.
“I came because I thought it would be fun and exciting and a real adventure,’’ said 10-year-old Matt Ryan, a Cub Scout from Newtown. “I liked going to the police station and learning about security.’’
Ryan, a 5th-grader at St. Rose of Lima School who has ambitions to be an inventor, joined the scouting movement five years ago.
“It means a lot to me,’’ Ryan said.
Ryan’s father and cubmaster, Mike Ryan, described the camporee as “absolutely fantastic.’’
“This is a rare opportunity for the boys to see the workings of the city emergency preparedness program,’’ Mike Ryan said. “It not only provides them with more understanding but may inspire some of them to make a career in security.’’
Contact Brian Saxton
or at (203) 731-3332.