Visually-impaired kids get life-saving lesson

August 1, 2008 3:45:34 PM PDT
It was only a simulated smoke condition, but learning how to escape a real fire could save the life of a child that is blind or vision-impaired. "I would crawl on the floor, touch the doors and see if it's ok before I go. Crawl on the floor until I get to a space where I can get out of the house and call the police and let them come," student Rachelle Peters said.

The drill was part of the first Emergency Safety Day, a project of the group called, The Parents of Blind Children.

Its president, Maria Garcia, is a lieutenant with the fire department's emergency service. She is also the mother of an 11-year-old who is blind.

"I think that what was really important about this for me was that my daughter be empowered to know that she could be a rescuer, not sitting somewhere waiting for someone to come save her," she said.

Other safety drills include how to call 9-1-1 in spite of the children's disabilities.

They learn how to feel the pulse of someone who is unconscious or has suffered an injury that leads to bleeding.

"The visually-impaired kids are just as good as the hearing impaired kids or any other child who can do it, because it's pretty much all done by touch," instructor David Gill said.

"To check somebody's pulse you have to check their wrist to see if there is any pulse or if they're breathing; then, if there's not any pulse, call 9-1-1 and tell them what's the problem," student Emmanuel Armstrong said.

There was even a drill for students on how to allow them to be safely lifted into an ambulance.

It is hoped, of course, that these children never have to use what they've learned here. But if they do, instructors are confident they would be as prepared as any child, in spite of their physical challenges.

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