" Pick him up. Set him down gently," are the directions young Boy Scouts receive in Panola County. A Boy Scout emergency preparedness class is under way at the George W. Pirtle Scout Reservation. "Transport him under the pavilion," is the order as the boys learn how to carry a mock victim in a makeshift gurney. The merit badge drill is taken seriously by Eagle Scout Matt Wallace. He cautioned, " Be careful. Be careful." Wallace knows scouts used the lesson in a real disaster in Iowa. He wants his students to be just as prepared. Wallace said, " We have something called, STOP. It's an acronym and its stay calm, think, observe the area and plan."
Camp director Jeff Jones will be responsible for 850 Boy Scouts by the end of the month. Bad weather preparedness is a must. " When each camp opens we're inspected by the National Council and there are 85 different standards that we are accountable for in emergency procedures," said Jones.
Going on in a nearby pavilion, Scout craft director, Aaron Reissig gathers his campers. He says, " Let's talk about tornadoes." Fire and tornado drills teach campers what to do. One Jefferson scout learned, " To make sure you take cover and to get to a safe place and you need to have a buddy. " A Houston scout knows to stay calm and collected. " If people are going to have to help you calm down everything is going to go crazy," he advised.
" You're just going to have to sit tight until we can make it happen, " said Jones into a hand held radio. Two way radios linked with other forms of communications provide advanced notice. Jones said, " We have Internet here at the camp office and we monitor the Internet every two to three hours just to see how the weather is going to change. Also our ranger is an amateur radio operator."
The camp is on the shore of Lake Murval. Weather patterns are watched closely. Swim instructor Ryan Davis reminds swimmers, " Alright, remember if thunderstorms come over we're going to hear thunder and see the lightening. You're going to have to hop out as soon as we blow the whistle. If you don't hop out, there's going to be some problems."