Camp Builds Preparedness, Resiliency Among Youth

ATU Youth Preparedness Camp 2023
Participants in the 2023 Arkansas Tech University Youth Preparedness Camp practice moving a victim with injury.

Twelve youth with an interest in learning more about emergency management and related fields attended the 2023 Arkansas Tech University Youth Preparedness Camp on the ATU campus in Russellville.

The camp was held Tuesday, June 27, through Thursday, June 29. Participants from grades 9-12 were exposed to information about and engaged in hands-on exercises in emergency preparedness, disaster medical operations, fire safety, personal protective equipment, survival skills, triage, community action planning, incident command systems, search and rescue, water safety and leadership.

Dr. Bethany Swindell, ATU assistant professor of emergency management, served as camp director. She said individuals traveled from as far away as three hours to participate.

“I hope they have increased their preparedness and they are able to go back into their communities and make them more resilient,” said Swindell. “If one person is more prepared, that takes strain off our first responders. These students are now able to put out a fire and stop the bleed. They can help triage and be a resource. These are lifelong skills that no one can take away from them.”

A grant from the Arkansas Hospital Coalition funded the 2023 ATU Youth Preparedness Camp.

Representatives from entities such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pope County Search and Rescue, Pope County Emergency Medical Services, Russellville Fire Department and Entergy Arkansas assisted in content delivery and training exercises.

Swindell also expressed appreciation to ATU emergency management students Pacey Furr, Noel Haas, Garrett McDonald, Andrew Rafferty and Will Sappington for their efforts during the camp. Fifteen additional ATU emergency management students gave one hour of service during the camp as part of their summer course work.

ATU has conferred more than 1,000 degrees in emergency management since developing its academic program in the late 1990s. In 2005, ATU became the first institution of higher learning to have its degree programs accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Emergency Management Education.

Learn more about the study of emergency management at ATU by visiting