September is National Preparedness Month, an appropriate time for all of us to take stock of our own emergency readiness. To drive home the importance of doing so, I’d like to share a life-changing experience for one Scout that can help us all remember why we should live up to our motto of “Be Prepared.”
Star Scout Charlie Finlayson of Troop 309 in Boise, Idaho’s Ore-Ida Council probably never thought he would be making life-or-death decisions as a 13-year-old. But Charlie’s Scouting skills helped save his father’s life Aug. 17 after a refrigerator-sized boulder came crashing down while the two were rock climbing during a camping trip. Charlie’s dad, 52-year-old David Finlayson, was in the boulder’s path and was knocked from a ledge.
David tumbled 30 feet down the mountain and was severely injured, suffering a broken back, broken arm, broken heel and a large gash to his shin.
Scared and alone in a wilderness area, with his father injured, Charlie drew upon his Scouting skills to avoid panicking. He cleaned and bandaged his father’s shin wound, kept him fed and hydrated, and used sleeping bags to keep him warm. Charlie then helped his father drag himself back to their campsite, located a mile away. After making sure his father had food and water, Charlie began the long trek to find help, eventually finding rescuers to assist with airlifting David to a local hospital.
I’ll leave it you to read more details about this inspiring survival story that appeared in many media outlets, including websites for NBC, People and the Idaho Statesman. In the meantime, please join me in applauding this courageous young man. Charlie: You, your family and troop have much to be proud of for your quick thinking and bravery.
There are many extraordinary stories like Charlie’s in which Scouts have made a difference in someone’s life, whether it’s been saving lives, providing community service or being a mentor to others. In each case, we have helped make sure our Scouts have been prepared to meet whatever challenges come their way. I find that very gratifying.
I also find a lot of satisfaction in knowing that our motto — “Be Prepared” — is the very message the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hopes to deliver throughout September during National Preparedness Month. In cooperation with other agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American Red Cross, FEMA’s Ready program promotes emergency planning at home, in neighborhoods, and at the workplace, culminating on Sept. 30 with a national day of action: America’s PrepareAthon. I think you will agree that’s some good company to be in and provides a ringing endorsement for a key lesson Scouting has taught since our inception.
Even back when I was a young Scout, I always enjoyed the “Scouts in Action” stories in the pages of Boys’ Life. I found those heroic tales of Scouts using the very skills I also was learning were very inspirational. Stories like these show that even as adults, we are still in awe of how Scouting prepares you for life’s sudden emergencies. This month, I urge all of you to raise the preparedness banner high and work with your family, friends and communities to continue to make emergency planning a priority not only in September, but year round.
Remember our motto.