THE “I CARE” STORY
The I CARE program evolved following a lecture on “Ethics and Values” presented by Santa Rosa Junior College EMT Instructor Chris Le Baudour. The lecture was presented on the second night of an 18 week, semester long program. Half way through his presentation Mr. Le Baudour had each of the students in the class complete the “Values Activity” to identify their personal core values. At the end of the class Mr. Le Baudour gave a homework assignment and challenged the entire class to identify 5 values that could be used to guide students on their journey to becoming EMTs and throughout their career.
At the next class meeting Chris began the class by facilitating a brainstorming session to begin identifying the 5 values that would help guide the students through the semester. Several words were offered up as suggestions and written on the board at the front of the room. Students became engaged in an active discussion on the relative merits of some of the values being offered. Chris kept the brainstorming session to only 10 minutes and allowed the words offered by the class to remain on the board for the remainder of the class period. This process of 10 minute brainstorming sessions continued for the next 3 or 4 classes until the class had identified and unanimously agreed upon the following 5 guiding values:
While attending an EMS conference in Los Angeles, Chris shared with another colleague (Dr. Chris Nollette) what had transpired in his classroom over the previous two weeks and the 5 values that the class had identified. As Chris and his colleague discussed the values represented they realized that when placed in the right order, the first letter of each word spelled “I CARE”.
Upon returning to the classroom after the conference Chris excitedly shared with the class his interesting discovery and the class was pleasantly surprised. A discussion ensued and several students suggested that the class come up with a way of recognizing fellow classmates for embracing the identified values. The idea was liked by all and the discussion was tabled until the next class.
At the next class meeting one of the students brought in a catalogue were she had found a lapel pin displaying the words “I Care”. A teaching assistant who saw the pin immediately offered to purchase the pins for the class in an effort to “get this great idea going”. By the next class we had received the pins and the I CARE program had officially begun. It was decided that we would take the first five minutes of each class to allow students to recognize one another for embracing the I CARE values.
The first person to receive an I CARE pin was teaching assistant and businessman Mr. John Martin, EMT. John was recognized for seeing the value of the I CARE program from the beginning and investing his own money to purchase the first set of pins.
We decided to allow up to 3 students to be recognized and receive their pins at each class meeting. Some meetings no one was recognized and other meetings we had three students recognized by their actions for having embraced one or more of the I CARE values. The goal was to have every single student wearing an I CARE pin by the end of the semester.
As the semester progressed, the students continually brought up examples in class of the I CARE values being embraced and displayed by other people in their lives. We saw many examples from all aspects of the students’ lives and it became very clear that the I CARE values were universal. Even though they were initially thought of as unique to the EMS profession, the students quickly realized that these values transcended all professions and vocations and were an important part of an individual’s character development, regardless of their chosen profession.
As the semester progressed, students seemed more focused on the positive in one another and developed a sincere interest in finding ways to recognize on another rather than in being recognized themselves. We put no restrictions on what a student could or could not be recognized for, so long as they in some way embraced one or more of the I CARE values.
As the semester neared an end, the discussion in the class turned to how to perpetuate the I CARE program and institute it for the following semester. A student in the class (Robert Davenport) approached me and told me that he had been sharing with his older sister about the I CARE values and how we as a class had embraced and recognized one another for displaying those values. His sister (Carolyn Davenport) was so impressed by the concept and the change she had seen in her younger brother through the EMT program that she decided to donate the money to purchase the I Care pins for the following semester. Two weeks later Carolyn died in her sleep at the age of 46.
Where do we go from here?
It has been nearly one year since that first class and we are already well into the second generation of the I CARE program at Santa Rosa Junior College. Since that time many things have happened as Chris has carried the I CARE message across the campus and across the nation. Recently Chris presented the Ethics and Values lecture along with the Values Activity and I CARE program to his entire department at SRJC. It was well received by his colleagues and a plan is in place to institute the I CARE program throughout al levels of EMS programs at the college, First Responder through Paramedic.
One of the students in that inaugural EMT class (Monique O’Dell) has since begun to lay the foundation for a branch of the volunteer department of a local hospital which she hopes will be named the “I CARE” volunteer wing of the hospital. Chris has been asked by a local elementary teacher to present the program to three 6th grade classes in an effort to help build character in these young people.
As a National Faculty member for the National Association of EMS Educators’ EMS Educator Course, Chris has now had the opportunity to present his Ethics and Values presentation in Sacramento, CA and Arlington Heights, IL. Following the second presentation in Illinois it was decided to officially incorporate Chris’ presentation and the I CARE program into the EMS Educators course curriculum.
Below is an email Chris received following the presentation in Illinois.
“Thanks again for the wonderful educational experience. It was a great place to network and learn. I did use your "I CARE" for our retiring EMS educator. We had a huge party attended by around 300 firemen, paramedics and all of our volunteer EMS personnel. Someone in our system will be granted the Jo Chambers I Care award on a yearly basis. This will allow her legacy to continue as she has been in Trinity's system for over 35 years. So thanks to you and your students, Trinity in Rock Island, Illinois has adopted your great idea.”
Here is another email received from an occupational health nurse manager following the ethics and values presentation at an end of the year meeting of the Medical Emergency Response Team for a large high tech company.
I just wanted to thank you for the training
class this past Wed. Several folks commented on what a great exercise it
was to consider and discuss ethics and values. It was very pertinent to
the season and to the training topic.
Thanks for shaking things up in such a thoughtful way.
Ms. O’Dell has made it her mission to help spread the word and the message of the I CARE program to all. Through her efforts, vision and mission statements along with a charter are being developed with the hopes of becoming a non profit entity. The hope is to carry the message of the I CARE program into the community including schools, businesses and industry.
As the program develops we will be placing various resources such as lesson plans, activities, PowerPoint presentations and other ideas on the website, www.icarevalues.org, for educators to download and use as they would like. I CARE is a grassroots program that must depend on donations for support. We will eventually have a convenient means to accept donations via our website for educators who find our resources helpful and would like to support our program.
We would also like to encourage you to submit any and all ideas you may have regarding the teaching of ethics and values and character development in the classroom. Our editorial team will review your submissions for inclusion on our resources area of the site.
If you would like to contact someone regarding the I CARE program, please feel free to use the following:
Chris Le Baudour: firstname.lastname@example.org