"THE HEART OF THE MATTER"
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)


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Week: 581.7 

Guest: Gail LeCompte, Marketing Dir., NEMA 

Topic: In a Flash gun injury educational program 

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: More kids are involved in gun incidents than ever before, but at a basic level, these young people don't understand what their chances of being seriously injured are....they understand only dying or living. Today, we'll talk about a video program, complete with educational support materials, that help middle school kids understand the large gray area that is surviving a gunshot wound. It's program is called In a Flash, from the National Emergency Medicine Association...this is marketing specialist Gail LeCompte...  

LECOMPTE: It began with a concept from our association president, Howard Farrington. He saw a news broadcast on TV one night, with a little girl whose friend had been shot...another child in the neighborhood. And she said, "I just don't want to diezzz". And when Howard came into work, that really kept kind of rolling around inside of him...and we did some research to find out some statistics. And discovered that kids had to die before they became a statistic. Apparently there are about 10 kids injured for every one that actually died...but the only place they kept statistics was on the death statistics. So, we felt that something needed to be done about this, we needed to find out what was going on. And most of the programs that were out there addressing this issue did stress teaching the kids about gun deaths, but no one focused on the facts of gun injury. And the kids didn't seem to understand....it was either sort of a live or die decision for them. They didn't realize that gun injury was going to require them to live the rest of their life as a paraplegic, or blind...something like that. So, it seemed to be important for us to use that as a focus rather than to use the death issue. And In a Flash does tell the truth about gun violence and gun injury, but it serves as a catalyst for developing non-violent ways to settle conflict, and teaching kids those kinds of life skills.  

NEMA: It's tough to come up with the concept and surround it with the comprehensive materials that would make it useful to those who would administer it....  

LECOMPTE: We were familiar with the videographer, Tom Blair, Blair and Associates...and Tom had a writer, a professional scriptwriter for him... Jan Keenan, that was also very experienced in curriculum development. We chose Jan because we knew that eventually the school boards...where we were giving the video out...would need to approve it. So it was going to have to meet curriculum guidelines, to be able to be approved and actually used in the classroom. So, that is how we came to Jan...through Tom. And it was a wonderful merging, and worked out extremely well.  

NEMA: Tell me a bit about the story of the video, and how you decided to go at it from that angle....  

LeCOMPTE: We decided that we wanted to stress gun injury, rather than gun death. There were programs out there on gun death...they didn't seem to be effective. Most of the kids, when we did our focus group, seemed to have this concept of Hollywood. I'm gonna be killed this week - come back next week...or they lived in gun environments where the concept of death was really not that frightening to them. It's a terrible thing to say that kids are not afraid to die...but they really aren't. There were very, very few of them that had this concept of gun injury. So, we wanted to stress that, to make that the focus of the film. To teach them the truth about gun injury and gun death...not the Hollywood version. And to stimulate thoughts in them where they would really make an assessment and decide, " what can I do to prevent living the rest of my life...or being the reason that a friend of mine lives the rest of their life in a wheelchair"? So, that's really where we began with our focus, and as we worked through the script (with Tom & Jan), and we met with the focus groups, and even the kids that were acting in the film portion of it, came to us with real life scenarios. And we started working some of those into the script...and there are several scenarios in there where we set up an imaginary situation, and then it's suggested that you stop the action, and refer to the printed materials for discussion topics on those...and try to come to non-violent ways of being able to resolve that situation. And they actually developed, as we went through the film...and the kids themselves, that were appearing in the film, talked about situations that they had actually experienced on the street or in their school or in their neighborhood. It was very much a cooperative effort, and the kids were absolutely fantastic...they were just dynamite, and very, very enthusiastic about the program.

NEMA: I wondered whether the kids thought the scenarios were lifelike...did you notice whether, and how their perspective may have changed during the project?  

LECOMPTE: I think so....again, most of the kids that we had, we really took from all over the metropolitan area, so we had kids from the city, kids from the suburbs. They did come in, each of them, with their own version of what this was going to be, but they kind of pulled together as they found out what we were trying to do, and they realized the importance of it. I know one of the lead actors did mention that he was very excited about being able to take this back to his school, because he said that this is something that everybody needs to know. And I think that this was a predominant feeling....that it didn't matter if you were a city kid or a suburban kid or even a rural kid. Gun safety, not using them to settle conflict, finding other ways to settle conflict...is really a life skill, not just something that happens to a kid on a street corner in a city.  

NEMA: Tell me how you've gotten In a Flash out to the target audience, and used by schools...  

LECOMPTE: Maryland was our pilot area, we wanted to find out how to go about it and how it went. We did distribute to over 700 schools in the state of Maryland and to Washington, D.C. ... middle schools...and to each of those middle schools, the program was given to them free. That was our goal, to make sure that every school had the opportunity to have these materials, regardless of their ability to pay for it. So, we did distribute...we tried to be sure that we got private schools, catholic schools, as well as the public school systems, and feel that we did a pretty good job of coverage on that. And then, as it started to go out, and we got some publicity about it...or people actually saw it, went home and talked about it. We made mention of it in our National Emergency Medicine Association newsletter that goes out. We began getting calls from other organizations, from Baltimore city Police Department...they have about 27 copies of it now, for each of their precincts. Health departments, hospitals were calling...a lot of youth groups, boys and girls clubs, supports groups, those types of things. And eventually the YWCA...they have recommended the program for their upcoming violence prevention week in October. So, quite a few of the YWCA's across the country are calling in now, and getting a copy to be able to include in that. So, once the word went out, we started getting calls from all over the country...including individual schools, there's about 29 schools in other states, besides Maryland, that have also gotten copies.  

NEMA: How about feedback from those school or program administrators... anecdotes...success stories?  

LECOMPTE: This was the first time we've done something on film, and we were a little bit apprehensive, but as we worked through primarily the Safe and Drug Free school curriculums, or the health programs in each of the schools...the teachers were calling back and the administrators... really complementing us. They felt that the program particularly stimulated extremely good discussion. And because of the way the program is developed, they're not channeled in to what's happening on the screen. They can really relate to their own personal experiences. And the teachers found that very, very valuable that it made the program material relevant to the kids...and it also allowed them a chance to sit down with their peer group and find ways to solve conflicts that wasn't going to diminish them in the eyes of their friends, because peer pressure, as we all know at that middle school age in particular, is very, very important...and I think that and the discussion are the places where most of the teachers have been most enthusiastic in the responses that they've made to us. They really feel it's a good quality resource package for stimulating discussion.  

NEMA: What happens next for a wider distribution of the program?  

LECOMPTE: Wonderful question! The first thing that has to happen is the money. NEMA did fund the original hundred thousand dollars that it cost to create the program, film the video and make the first thousand copies. We are getting calls from all over the country, from people that are interested in other school districts...Illinois, in particular, is interested in putting it into their schools. But we don't have enough copies left, and we can't continue to fund on a national basis. So, we're looking for one of two things...or a combination: hopefully there would be some corporate sponsor that would like to make a large enough donation that we could do a sizable number of reprints, and that's all we need to do now, we don't need to recreate the program, just the cost of reprinting and shipping, which is nominal - we could get another thousand or two thousand copies made. The other option is we could go into each individual state, get the support of the school system there...that they are interested and willing...and then try to find a corporate sponsor that would be willing to fund the cost to be able to create enough copies to be able to use within their own state. We're finding that a thousand copies would be about 17 thousand dollars, and if you break that down into the hundreds of thousands of kids that are going to see it within that state each year, and the number of years that the program can be used...you're probably talking a penny a child, to be able to give them this information that may save lives, and certainly may save children from living the rest of their lives as victims of gunshot. So, it's a nominal fee..but for us, since we've already put the hundred thousand out, it's going to have to come from someplace else. And we're ready to go with it if we can find sponsors.  

NEMA: Gail LeCompte talking about the In a Flash video curriculum on gunshot injury...from the National Emergency Medicine Association. For information, call 800-332-6362.  

SPOT: Small pages....big advice on parenting...from infants to teens. The Little Book of Parenting. What to expect, emotionally and physically, as your child grows. How to develop positive discipline,how to deal with kids and TV, adolescent issues, drug education, fighting, single and step parenting...it's all in The Little Book of Parenting, available through the National Emergency Medicine Association. Call 1-800-332-6362 for more information.

 

NEMA: Thanks for joining us for today=s program. If you have any comments or suggestions, contact this station. Or visit our home page at:

www.nemahealth.org/

  • ...for a look at transcripts of this or past programs, or to find out more about the National Emergency Medicine Association. I=m Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.