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Butterfly release honors crime victims, families and advocates
Jonathan Jackson, of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, leads the Lakeview Academy chorus and choral in song Friday morning.

To honor victims of crimes, dozens of butterflies were released at a ceremony Friday morning at the Hall County Courthouse.

Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard and Northeastern Judicial Circuit Lee Darragh held the annual butterfly release at a ceremony in Kenyon Plaza to praise the work of local child welfare advocates.

The event marks the end of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in efforts to advance the work of child welfare agencies. The practice comes from a legend that to make a wish, one must capture a butterfly and whisper a wish to it.

“So by making a wish and releasing the butterfly, it should be taken to the heavens to be granted. Although this legend applies that we should keep our wishes silent, there are some wishes that need to be expressed out loud,” said Children’s Center for Hope and Healing Executive Director Betty Guilfoile.

On Monday morning, Woodard and other child advocates gathered at the Edmonson-Telford Center for Children for the dedication of the Austin Sparks Memorial Garden. The 19-month-old Sparks died in 1996 as a result of physical abuse.

In the 19 years since Sparks’ death, Woodard said roughly 10,000 children have been helped at the center.

“Remember when you see somebody out there, they do have a story,” said Family Ties Executive Director Dee Dee Mize.second floor of Lanier Park Hospital on Friday may have looked like a scene from a horror film, but actually it was just the setting for some great lessons for many area first responders.

The Georgia Department of Public Health, District 2, in coalition with Emory University, conducted an Advanced Disaster Life Support Training course in order to give emergency workers a taste of some of the real-life situations many of them never hope to face.

The purpose of the course was to train these responders, including nurses, physicians and paramedics, how to properly care for victims of natural disasters, bomb explosions, biomedical contamination and other traumatic situations.

The volunteers at Friday’s mock emergency situation played the part well, with many of them made to look like they had body parts amputated and others being made up head to toe with fake blood and broken bones protruding from the skin.

Friday’s training class was set to resemble the scene of a hospital after a bomb has exploded.

After the victims took their place in the hospital rooms, that’s when the serious work began.

“The teams (of first responders) come down and assess the situations and it just gives them a more real-life view of actual injuries,” said Jennifer Davis, emergency preparedness manager for Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

In addition to the very real-looking injuries, sirens were blaring and people were screaming in agony in order to better prepare the emergency responders for the stress such a situation could present.

“It trains them in case they ever do have to respond to a real event,” said Davis.

After the teams assessed the situation, the volunteers picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and acted like nothing happened so they could quickly get in role once again for another mock situation.

Emory University first approached Davis and the medical center and asked if she would be willing to host the class, and she happily obliged.

“I told them I would love to host something like this,” she said.

This is the second time the Lanier Park medical campus has held an event like this with a mass casualty simulation and there will be another one on a much bigger level this June with all of the North Georgia medical agencies participating in a tornado response simulation.

Davis is an incident response instructor which includes terrorist bombing and weapons of mass destruction preparedness and response and she encourages anyone who is interested in any of those classes or anyone who wants to volunteer to contact her.

“I try to throw in some really different things that they’re not used to training for,” said Davis. “And I always get a really good response from it.”

Those that take and successfully pass Davis’ course receive a certificate in advanced life support which goes towards credit hours for EMT, paramedic or nursing licenses.

Davis and the whole Northeast Georgia Medical Center community are grateful that Emory offered to teach the class to people in the region.

“I’m glad that people can come and take this free class and I’m happy to host any of them. I have a lot of fun with it,” said Davis.