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Carilion nurses educate students on drugs, alcohol

The Carilion New River Valley Medical Emergency Room Department spent Monday morning educating Pulaski County High School juniors and seniors on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Three nurses from Carilion – Amy Berry, Nicole Thornton, and Mandy Rorrer – spoke to over 500 students in two separate groups at 10:20 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. The event was to help better educate students before PCHS has its prom this Saturday.
"The real big key to this presentation is prevention," Rorrer said. "We are trying to teach them what we learn and what we see in our environment. We are trying to get these kids not to do what they can prevent. They can prevent this if they use the education and knowledge that we give them."
These nurses gave a presentation, entitled "Life as a student: A presentation on drug overdose, alcohol intoxication, and major trauma seen in the Emergency Department."
More than two dozen slides were shown to the students, depicting many different statistics and images on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. The nurses also brought along medical tools often used on people who abuse drugs and alcohol, varying from backboards, catheters, and tubes inserted into the body after a car crash.
The program, which was started in August 2009, has Carilion nurses travel to many high schools in the area, including Pulaski, Giles, Floyd, Montgomery, and Radford. These nurses teach students the effects of both alcohol and drugs in their lives.
"We’ve done this many times," Berry said. "This is the first time we have done this with juniors and seniors before prom. … We go to different schools in the area to try help kids realize the impact of the decisions they make and what drugs, alcohol, and driving together can do."
After the presentations were over, several of the students who watched the presentation had questions and comments for the nurses.
"Generally, they ask us questions concerning medical school," said Thornton, a PCHS graduate. "They usually won’t ask us questions in front of their classmates during the presentation. A lot of times, they tell us a story about something that happened to a family member or their experience of being in the hospital and seeing some of this."
Along with speaking at high schools, the group has already made presentations at Radford University and New River Community College. There are plans to also speak to students at Wytheville Community College.
The group will be working with various PCHS students during a driver’s education seminar this Monday from 8:26 a.m. to 3:58 p.m in the PCHS gymnasium.

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