Fifth-graders Alena Loquorcio and Tyler Crowley hope they never have to call 911 or visit an emergency room. But if they do, they and all of their Sandburg Elementary School classmates will be prepared.
Students on Friday participated in a Health and Safety Fair -- complete with a classroom converted into a mini-emergency room and visits by soldiers and firefighters -- organized by the Wheaton school's Parent Teacher Association.
"We did this when I was in first and third grade, too, but I'm learning a lot more this year," Alena said as she tried on a neck brace and sling in the mock ER. "It's important to know what to do in an emergency and this is fun."
The daylong event, in which students from every grade level cycle through stations in 20-minute intervals, was created in 2005 by PTA member and Central DuPage Emergency Room nurse Carol Tulley.
"I'm an ER nurse and I love to teach health and safety and I love to teach it to kids in the community, so we developed this for the school. Instead of having a little bit each day we put it all together to have one big day for the kids to learn," Tulley said.
"It has evolved into a very hand-on, nonthreatening way for kids to have fun while also learning some important and potentially lifesaving information in the process."
Friday's fair also included a visit from Jerry and Estella Hayes, former contestants of NBC-TV's "The Biggest Loser," a dental hygienist and representatives of area fitness organizations teaching everything from weather preparedness to eating right.
"My favorite part was getting my fake wounds put on and trying on all of the equipment," Tyler said. "The Army soldiers teaching us drills and exercise were fun, too."
The Army representatives were a new addition to the fair and spoke to the students about world safety, commitment and respecting authority.