Students at Durham Nativity School are receiving survival and first aid training through a new program developed by two Albert Schweitzer Fellows: Green Beret Veteran Jon Andrews, a student at Duke University School of Medicine, and fellow Duke medical student Nicholas Tsipis. Three trainings are being held throughout the academic year reaching a total of 32 Durham Nativity School students. Each eight-week session culminates in a mock disaster simulation day designed to evaluate the disaster preparedness skills the middle school students have learned in the program.
The final disaster simulation will take place on Saturday, March 15 at Jordan Lake.
Andrews, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Special Forces, and Tsipis developed their training program, which aims to increase the self-sufficiency of the boys at Durham Nativity, as Albert Schweitzer Fellows.
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) supports students in conceiving and implementing year-long service projects to address the root causes of health needs in underserved communities. The North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows Program has sponsored nearly 400 Fellows who have partnered with community-based organizations on a variety of health, wellness and prevention programs.
Durham Nativity School is a tuition-free private school that serves boys from low-income families.
“Durham Nativity is all about giving students opportunities to develop leadership skills, critical thinking abilities, and self-sufficiency. This survival and first aid program is a unique and engaging way to prepare them to better deal with the challenges of daily life and during unfortunate times of crisis,” said Dr. Daniel J. Vannelle, Durham Nativity’s head of school. “We’re pleased to partner with Jon and Nick and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, which shares our school’s commitment to service for others, to ensure our boys can overcome whatever challenges they may face.”
The program seeks to enhance the ability of the boys to address the safety and preparedness of their communities during a disaster situation when basic medical supplies are scarce and emergency medical services aren’t readily accessible. The students are learning how to prepare for and respond to a disaster, conduct patient assessment, perform hands-only CPR, and apply simple wound dressings. The students are also increasing their disaster preparedness by establishing written family disaster plans which are signed by all members of each student’s household and creation of a kit with as many items needed for preparedness for their homes.
“In our increasingly complex world, all adults and young people should be prepared for natural disasters or manmade emergencies,” said Andrews, whose military service spurred his interest in wilderness medicine. “Our training program is teaching students at Durham Nativity to be self-reliant, to help others, and to serve their families, community and country in times of crisis. It’s been a joy to watch these young people develop and use the courage and leadership skills that are critical to surviving when disaster strikes.”
With the help of the Schweitzer Fellows’ friends and family members, other Duke medical students, and Durham Nativity School staff, the final disaster simulation will take place on March 15 at Jordan Lake. The students will demonstrate their newly learned survival and first aid skills and will be evaluated regarding their ability to:
- Recognize all injuries and assess casualties using ABCDE (Airway/Breathing/Circulation/Disability/Environment/Exposure) assessment priorities;
- Treat all injuries appropriately, and not causing further harm to the patients in their treatments/interventions; and
- Report to higher headquarters the number of victims, types of injuries, and treatments provided.
“Our staged disaster simulations at Durham Nativity have been a huge success,” said Tsipis, who survived a near-fatal health emergency while teaching at a youth sports camp in Viet Nam thanks to a sharp-eyed friend. “I was so impressed with how the students used their training to assure their own safety and to help other people in need. These boys are developing the physical and mental skills to effectively care for themselves and their community in an emergency situation – skills that will serve them in other areas of their lives.”
“Jon’s and Nick’s collaboration with Durham Nativity School exemplifies the primary element of an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship: commitment to service,” said Barbara Heffner, director of the North Carolina ASF program. “These Fellows are not only demonstrating their own commitment to service, they are inspiring and nurturing that same ideal in the next generation of future leaders through their survival and first aid training program.”