SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
A troop of 20 Honduran Scouts had the opportunity to interact with members of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element, in order to earn their merit badge in first aid at a local school in Comayagua, Aug. 17.
The Boy Scouts of America was created on Feb. 8, 1910 and for the last 103 years their central focus was to build character, train those individuals in the responsibilities of participating in citizenship and to develop personal fitness. Since its founding, it has evolved into a worldwide organization.
"I thought from the beginning our goals were fairly ambitious, but I rather have an ambitious goal than to not plan enough," said U.S. Army Captain Gerald Grass, MEDEL registered nurse. "We are dealing with a very intelligent group of Scouts. We focused on a basic introductory goal of CPR and what you would like to achieve with CPR. All of the kids participated and when it was time for them to watch the video, everyone was silent and focused. Afterward they demonstrated their knowledge."
The Boy Scout organization can be found on every continent, but Antarctica. In order to earn the first aid badge the Scouts must have basic knowledge on various topics, which includes plants and animals, how to build a first aid kit, CPR, and how to transport patients.
"The Honduran and American Scouts have a lot of similarities, but one difference is the age, they only have until the age of 16 to become an Eagle Scout, and here it's called the Lempira," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chris Havermale, MEDEL pharmacy technician and Eagle Scout. "Also in Honduras it's coed and it has always been that way as for in the U.S. this is a more recent change."
The first aid badge is the only badge required in the Scouting organization.
"The requirements for first aid in the U.S. and Honduras are the same," said Havermale. "These scouts are willing to learn, despite the language barrier. They are still trying and the pure enjoyment of 'I can now save my aunt's life,' is amazing. You see them grow from a slight knowledge to a full understanding during the near five week course. The last requirement before they can earn the badge is they have to teach what they've learned."
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Scouting organization and only approximately 7 percent of those in Scouts will earn this distinction and it must be completed before their 18th birthday. As for the Lempira Scout, it's in honor of a heroic Indian chief, who fought against the Spanish in the 1530s.
"We want to teach these scouts to understand you can do more than just watch, don't just pick up the phone and dial 911, but react to the situation," said U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Gebler, MEDEL flight surgeon. "One scout motto is 'always be prepared' and if we don't prepare them they won't be. We don't want to see someone collapse and die in the street because no one knows what to do. We want these men and women to have the confidence to see the problem and react."
"We believe the Honduran Scouts can earn their merit badges, but it's kind of fun when you have this many subject-matter-experts that can pile into a van and go out and do some of the humanitarian support that we are here to do," said Gebler.