Third Annual Camp Allows Kids to Explore the World of First Responders

Jim Heald

The Ashland Beacon


   Life at Boyd County 911 is measured out in short stretches of time between incoming calls. After what seems like hours but is only long minutes, the light flashes, indicating an incoming call. There is no information on the screen concerning where the call is originating from so, it is probably a call from a cell phone.

   The dispatcher takes the call, but there is no one on the other end. Is it a crank call? Is it a call made accidentally from a phone that is shifting around in someone's back pocket? 

   Suddenly a frantic voice is heard on the speaker. The caller is a female. She says that she thinks he is dead. The dispatcher asks her to calm down so she can give information that police, fire, and emergency medical services need for their response.

   She takes a breath, calms down, gives information. Before the line goes dead, she is recorded on tape saying, "He's dead. I killed him." 

   Tuesday, June 17. 9:00 a.m. It was a hot day in Ashland when the participants of the First Responders Camp enter the room. Waiting for them were police officers standing by to give instruction and advice for crime scene investigation. 

   On the floor was a male of unknown age, shot four times, with no hope of being revived. The students poured over the room 

looking for clues. Spent shell casings are found inside and outside the room, as well as a hammer covered with physical evidence of an assault. Hair found indicates that a woman is involved but her body is not found. Other evidence is collected by the students, including a bloody shirt.

   More details of the case were uncovered. It was learned that a man contacted a woman on the Internet and arranged a meeting. At the site, the man attacked the woman with a hammer. The woman defended herself with a firearm, shooting the man twice in the chest, once in the sternum, and once in the head, according to Jacob Lykins, a homeschooled student participating in his third camping experience. 

   Lykins has a hard time pinning down his favorite part of the camp. "If I had to choose, I'd say everything."

   The First Responders Camp is sponsored by the Kentucky Highlands Museum and Discovery Center. This year eleven students participated in activities prepared by Boyd County Emergency Management Services, Ashland Fire Department, Ashland Police Department, and Boyd County Emergency Medical Service. Lucy the bloodhound also made an appearance at the camp, where she put her sniffing skills to good use searching a field near the Ohio River for a body.

   This was also the first year that Healthnet Aeromedical Services (HAS) in Huntington, West Virginia, was able to provide a helicopter for a "scene flight," an exercise that demonstrates to the public the capabilities of emergency medical transport by air. 

   Frank Peters, a flight nurse with Healthnet, explained that his training required West Virginia certification in critical care transportation, as well as a 10-week course at the flight academy. It included classroom and field training. Of the intensive course he said, "When you are done, you feel ready to do the job."

   HAS is a not-for-profit organization operated by Cabell-Huntington Hospital, the Charleston Area Medical Center and West Virginia University Medicine. It has 10 bases throughout the Tri-State Area and has been in service for 32 years. Besides care flight operations, the service provides air transport from small hospitals to larger hospitals for patients to get the care they need.

   Donetta Trimble, the education director for the museum, watched on as the middle school students were given closely supervised hands-on training with tools used to take apart cars so EMTs can get access to accident victims. 

   "All three days have been awesome," Trimble said. "I've been watching the kids love it. There might be some career choices come out of this."

   Trimble is appreciative of the men and women of each service that came to help out. She was particularly glad that some students were able to voice concerns over school safety in light of violence at several schools throughout the US. 

   Students met police officers Troy Patrick and Aaron Helms, who will serve as school resource officers for the Ashland Independent School District. Helms will be assigned to Paul Blazer High School, while Patrick will serve as the Drug Awareness Resistance Education officer at Ashland Middle School. 

   "Meeting these officers put them at ease," Trimble said. "It made them feel better to know they are protected. These are the guys who will come in and help them when an emergency occurs." 

   Ava Daniel, who will attend Ashland Middle School in the fall, believes that what she learned in the camp will help her if anything happened to a fellow student. Students were trained in wrapping head wounds and other injuries that required bandaging so, she feels comfortable performing basic first aid. 

   Daniel is also glad that Patrick will be her DARE officer. "He was really nice. He was fun," she said. "I talked to him a lot. He has a good personality. When I go to school I will feel safer because I know him. I don't have to be scared around him."

   For more information concerning activities at the Kentucky Highlands Museum, visit the website at or call 606.329.8888.