INDIO, Calif. - Fifth graders from Dr. Carreon Academy participated in a county-approved disaster drill hosted by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) and Dr. Carreon Academy School, Dr. Carreon Foundation and JFK Memorial Hospital. A helicopter from Mercy Air made a quick landing, while a fire engine arrived and an ambulance full of children unloaded. All the agencies took part in the drill so the students could get a behind-the-scenes look at emergency and health services. "We pretended that there was a bombing at Dr. Carreon and we had a bunch of victims come, and get checked out and pretend they got hurt," said fifth grader Briauna Ramirez.
Ramirez played the role of a public information officer, while her classmates played victims. The students met and learned from different emergency responders including a K-9 unit from Indio PD. For the professionals, the drill was a real chance to practice. "With schools and stuff and things that happen throughout the United States, we want to be prepared to respond efficiently and effectively," said Gary Honts, the CEO of JFK Memorial Hospital.
The goal was for the students to gain exposure to the operations of the hospital during a disaster and to the variety of career opportunities in the health and emergency medical services. "It is the fulfillment of the Dr. Carreon legacy always to striving to better the community and to inspire the youth to have big dreams," said Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, a board member for the Dr. Carreon Foundation.
Dr. Ruiz spent time with the students, encouraging them to follow their dreams of serving. "To be a hero, he's basically saying to help other people," said Dominique Hollis, a fifth grade student.
Though all these students may not line up for jobs in public service, at least one found a real passion. "I'm leaning towards being a PIO now, because it just seems like a lot of fun," said Ramirez.