Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month, celebrated annually during March in the U.S., highlights the contributions of women to events in history and society. Today, we highlight five inventions by women that have had an impact in the fields of police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) that make all our lives safer.

1. In 1887, Anna Connelly patented the first fire escape bridge, allowing people who escaped to the rooftop to make their way to a neighboring building during a fire. Fire escapes are essential to residents’ and first responders’ rescue efforts in the event of a fire.

2. In 1969, Marie Van Brittan Brown, a nurse, was the first person to develop a patent for home closed-circuit television security. Her invention became the framework for the modern closed-circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance, crime prevention, and traffic monitoring.

3. Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and computer scientist, invented COBOL,  the first user-friendly business computer software system in the 1940s. Thanks to Dr. Hopper, her program was later adapted by other computer scientists and modified for fire and EMS programs.

 

4. DuPont chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar in 1966 while she was trying to create a material to make stronger tires. She wove the material into a fiber, and the forerunner for firefighter gear and ballistic vests was born.

5. In WWII, to aid in the deployment of radio-controlled torpedoes, Hedy Lamarr made significant contributions to the field of frequency hopping in radio technology. This development paved the way for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Alcohol Poisoning: When Drinking Turns Toxic

With Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day coming up this weekend, this week’s message will focus on alcohol poisoning.

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Alcohol poisoning happens when you drink a large amount of alcohol, usually over a short period of time. Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is so high that it is considered to be toxic.

Alcohol depresses the nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (to prevent choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually cause these functions to shut down. Since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach, excessive vomiting is also common. If the person is unconscious, this could lead to death by asphyxiation.

Some of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin
  • Seizure
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute)
  • Unconsciousness or passing out
  • Vomiting

If you think someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 right away. Illinois State Law provides amnesty from any criminal liability related to underage drinking if you call for yourself or a friend. So don’t worry about getting in trouble or getting a drinking ticket; the police care significantly more about your health and safety than about issuing a ticket.

While you wait for help, DO

  • ….Stay with them.
  • …Keep them warm.
  • …If they are unconscious, put them in the recovery position and check that they are breathing.
  • …If they are awake, try to keep them in a sitting position and awake.

If someone has drunk too much, DO NOT

  • …leave someone to sleep it off. The amount of alcohol in someone’s blood continues to rise even when they stop drinking.
  • …give them coffee. Alcohol dehydrates the body, as does coffee. Having both can lead to severe dehydration and permanent brain damage.
  • …make them throw up. Alcohol can interfere with a person’s gag reflex, causing them to choke on their own vomit.
  • …walk them around. Alcohol slows brain function and affects coordination and balance. Walking around might cause accidents.
  • …put them under a cold shower. Alcohol lowers body temperature. A cold shower could make them colder than they already are and lead to hypothermia.
  • …let them drink more alcohol. The amount of alcohol in their bloodstream could become even higher – which could put them in more danger.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Celebrate 10 Years of the Garden Hills Homework Club

The Garden Hills Homework Club is an afterschool program in which Parkland students, faculty, and staff tutor 3rd–5th graders to improve their reading skills, support their academic success, and act as positive role models. The Garden Hills Homework Club was co‐founded in the fall of 2007 by Brian Nudelman, English faculty and director of Service Learning at Parkland College, and Lauren Smith, community outreach coordinator for Champaign Unit 4 Schools.

Garden Hills Elementary School was selected because of its proximity to Parkland and because of Garden Hills’ high percentage of low-income and limited-English-proficient students. Initially the focus of the Homework Club was on helping Garden Hills students  complete their homework but has since transitioned to improving reading and literacy skills. Volunteers tutor students on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3–4pm and they work with the same student throughout the entire semester in order to provide a consistent, positive college role model.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Garden Hills Homework Club. On Wednesday, March 8, The Garden Hills Homework Club is hosting an open house at Parkland College in room D244 from 3 to 3:45 p.m. It will also be a demonstration of the Homework Club, including mindfulness meditation, the PALS (peer assisted learning system) reading program, and snacks for all attendees.

For more information about the Garden Hills Homework Club, how to volunteer, or to RSVP to the Homework Club Open House please contact Josh Clark at jclark@parkland.edu or 353-3302.

Middle, High Schoolers Coming to Science Olympiad at Parkland

Towers will be tested, robots will be reaching, and hovercraft will be hovering for science! The regional Science Olympiad competition will take place at Parkland College this Saturday, March 4.

The Science Olympiad draws hundreds of students from over a dozen area schools. Students will work hands-on to solve problems across a variety of disciplines, including biology, chemistry, and technology. Our awards ceremonies will be held in the Dodds Athletic Center beginning at 3:15 pm;  top teams will then compete at the state tournament, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on April 29.

During the regional tourney, each team will participate in 23 events spread out across campus. Our X wing will have students testing Rube Goldberg devices. Our gym will host students operating helicopters. Students will be using their wind turbines in our M wing. Others will be studying microbes in the L wing or looking at constellations in the Staerkel Planetarium.

The regional Science Olympiad is a great way to get students excited about science! Campus volunteers will be helping to run the events in this competition. For more information, contact Erik Johnson at ejohnson@parkland.edu.

[Erik Johnson is a full-time faculty member in Parkland College’s Natural Sciences department.]

 

Tax Time! Benefits for Students

It’s officially tax season! Have you received a 1098-T form from Parkland and are wondering what to do with it? If you are a college student who files taxes, there’s a good chance you can benefit from one or more tax programs for students. Read on to find out how you can save some money (and maybe even get a bigger refund!)

There are two main types of tax benefits available to students: tax credits and deductions.

Tax credits reduce the amount of income tax you pay. If you are receiving a tax refund because you had excess funds taken out of a paycheck for taxes, an education credit can increase this refund. Alternatively, if you owe money for underpaid taxes, a credit can reduce or offset this balance. Tax credits are a great way to offset what you pay for school (including payments that you make with money borrowed as student loans). There are two education credits available to college students: the American Opportunity Credit (AOC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). The AOC is available for students who are in their first four years of college (at least half time), and the LLC is available to students who may not meet the qualifications for the AOC. Students who are part time, already have a degree, or who have already used four years of AOC may benefit from the LLC.

Deductions reduce your total income for the purposes of calculating your tax bill. If you don’t qualify to receive an education tax credit, you can deduct the amount of money you paid for school (again, including money that came from student loans) from your income, which in turn will reduce the amount of income taxes owed to the government. Deductions result in proportionately smaller tax savings than credits, but can still increase your refund.

Speaking of student loans, if you made any student loan payments last year–even if you were just paying the interest accruing on an unsubsidized loan–you may be eligible for the Student Loan Interest Deduction. This allows you to deduct the amount of student loan interest paid from your income, resulting in a lower tax bill. Your loan servicer (the company that collects your student loan payments) should provide you with a statement indicating the total loan interest you paid in 2016.

For more information about each of these benefits, as well as a list of all eligibility requirements, check out this article: www.nasfaa.org/2016_tax_year.

Are you a new tax filer? Learn how to file your own taxes with SALT. Parkland has partnered with SALT, a nonprofit organization that helps student take control of their personal finances. They have informational articles, videos, and even an entire course on how to file your taxes. Get your free account at www.saltmoney.org/parklandcollege.

[Julia Hawthorne is an advisor with Financial Aid and Veteran Services at Parkland College.]

 

Go ahead, get ahead.