Planning for the day, I wanted to make sure that there were enough people to cover all our supervision bases.  Saturday came and eleven people from Special Gathering went to SeaWorld amusement park from Vero.  SeaWorld is 97 miles from our point of departure. 

This was a much smaller group than we normally take.  However, three of the people who were traveling with us were either nonverbal or  physically disabled.  These three members have been extremely involved with Special Gathering for more than 10 years, but they have never been able to go on any trips with us.  Because they have moved into another group home, they are now allowed to attend these activities. 

I was not sure how these three people would fare during a vigorous day walking through a theme park.  SeaWorld seemed to be the idea venue for the adventure.  The park is smaller and there are mostly shows where we would sit and watch the fish and animals perform.

Four of the 11 people were from one group home.  They had their own supervision and they went their own way, once we got our tickets.  There were seven of us traveling together.  One woman would be in a wheel chair.  There were three men who seemed physically health.  The other member was a lady who is young and healthy.  I had asked a staff member to come with us.  We had a supervision ratio of 2 to 5.  We were reasonably sure that all of our bases were covered regarding supervision.

Things went wonderfully well until we were heading out of the park to the parking lot.  As we walked, we planned to break the trip by stopping at a couple of exhibits.  Unfortunately, Don, one of the men who is physically healthy, got tired, over heated and dehydrated.  He decided to plop down in the middle of the walking path.  We waited for him to recoup and moved him to a bench.  Because he had drunk over 50 ounces of water during the day, we assumed that he was over heated and exhausted.  However, when I got ice to put on his heat points, he took it from me and ate it.  I got a cup of ice for him.  He ate it greedily. 

Earlier in the day, Dan had coughed and choked while he drank the last 16 ounces of water.  Therefore, we were trying to get to the car before giving him any more water so we could monitor the size of Dan’s swallows.  As he sat on the bench, I got a full cup of ice for him. 

Realizing that he was dehydrated, I went and got him a fruit juice slouchy that he had to eat with a spoon.  This ensured that he would not drink too quickly and get choked again.  Revived by the sugary liquid and refreshed by the ice, Don was soon able to get to the car without further incident.

Of course, I’m not a medical person and, certainly, not an expert in dehydration.  But here are some things we learned:

  1.   If one member is in a wheel chair, understand that one supervision person will be solely occupied pushing this person.  Don’t assume–as I did–that one of your members will be able to push the chair.  Even though this has worked in the past, the crowds were much too large to allow anyone, except me or the other staff person, to push the chair.
  2. During an extremely hot day, dehydration can happen even if it appears that plenty of liquids have been consumed.
  3. Ice or slouchy ice can be substituted for liquids.  If the person is having trouble swallowing, try this substitute.
  4. Try to envision each problem before the day.  Determine how you will work out a problem.
  5. Applying cold water or ice on the heat points of the body will help to cool down a person.  These heat points are in the neck–especially under the ear and in the back of the neck, on the inside of the elbows, on the inside of knees.  The inside of the upper and lower arm are also heat points.  These places are where skin is thin and blood flows closer to the skin.  If there is no ice, cold water from any spicket will work. 
  6. Slow down.  Stop often and smell the sweaty tourists.
  7. Don’t hesitate to call 911.
  8. Prayer will give you wisdom that you don’t normally have.  It will also give strength to the weak.

Once again, we saw that things can happen which are beyond your skill or wisdom.  However, God helps and enables.  He is good to us, even when we are on a big adventure.