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Nurse Volunteer Brings the Simple Gift of Health and Safety Training
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October 27, 2009

How does one describe Kay Moyer? A teacher? A nurse? A Red Cross volunteer? Moyer is all of these—and she performs each at a high level of skill.

American Red Cross of the Susquehanna Valley board chair Lisa M. Groff (right) presents the Community Impact Hero for Lancaster County award to volunteer nurse Kay Moyer.
American Red Cross of the Susquehanna Valley board chair Lisa M. Groff (right) presents the Community Impact Hero for Lancaster County award to volunteer nurse Kay Moyer.
Photo credit to American Red Cross of the Susquehanna Valley

Something more sets Moyer apart—her dogged determination to bring today’s health and safety techniques to the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, communities known for their simple living and their reliance on life without many “modern” conveniences.

There is a great need in both traditional and modern farm communities for basic health and safety education. In the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area where Moyer volunteers, there is an extra risk of children and adults getting trapped and suffocating in grain silos, as well as children drowning in livestock watering troughs and the commonplace farm ponds.

According to Moyer, “Farming is one of the most risky occupations, and children who live on any farm have a 24-hour-per-day exposure to the hazards of farming.”

The Mennonite and Amish populations are totally underserved by traditional educational agencies, and they are not effectively reached by modern communications and emergency services.

Moyer, professionally an Extension Educator with the Cooperative Extension Office in Lancaster County, has been filling that gap.

This year Moyer and another nurse volunteer, Taunia Ceresini, launched Healthy Child, Safe Child, a program that includes safety, emergency preparedness, CPR and first aid, complete with mannequins and a miniature doll house chock-full of dangers and risky behaviors. Classes also include well-child checks and introduce the children to the use of a telephone for emergencies.

Youth volunteers have been drawn to the program. Student volunteers from the Lancaster General Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences help with the physicals. In fact, the program is becoming part of their curriculum, as it’s a great opportunity to practice well-child check-ups.

Moyer is very respectful of local customs and sensibilities. For example, Moyer and her graphic designer daughter, Karen Chow, re-illustrated Red Cross Basic Aid Training materials for elementary school children to depict girls in braids and longer dresses, and boys in suspenders.

People from the Mennonite and Amish communities come to Moyer and ask if she can come to their home to teach a class for their neighbors and family. She is invited into the schools to talk to the students about fire safety and farm safety. “It is a privilege to work with these families and it is wonderful that they let the nursing students learn by doing the physicals on their healthy children,” said Moyer.

News of Moyer’s lifesaving program is spreading. Other Red Cross chapters have asked to learn more about Healthy Child, Safe Child techniques. And Ohio State University is starting a partnership with Moyer to develop a similar curriculum for the Old Order communities in Ohio.

“The information Kay Moyer imparts saves lives and to many, she is the primary source of safety knowledge in these communities,” says American Red Cross of Susquehanna Valley public relations officer Kathy Smyser. For her untiring community service, the Red Cross has named Moyer the Community Impact Hero for Lancaster County.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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