Community Buildings and Places – Emergency

Welcome back to our Community Buildings and Places series! This week, we’re going to look at places you might need to go in an emergency.


WakeMed Cary

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

Wake County has several hospitals. In eastern Raleigh, you can go to WakeMed Hospital. In western Raleigh, you can go to Rex Hospital. In southern Raleigh, Cary, or Apex, you can go to WakeMed Cary Hospital. If you have a medical emergency, go to the Emergency Room (E.R.), or call 9-1-1. At the hospital, the doctors see people in order based on the seriousness of their problems. That means the doctors see people with more serious problems first. For example, if you are bleeding a lot and another person is bleeding only a little, the doctor will see you first. If you are having a heart attack while another person has a broken arm, the doctor will see you first. It doesn’t matter who arrived first. The person in more danger will go first.


Urgent Care

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

You don’t need to go to the hospital for every problem. When you go to the E.R. with a problem that is not very serious, you will have to wait for a long time. Also, the E.R. is very expensive. It might be better for you to go to Urgent Care. Here are some reasons to go to Urgent Care:

  1. You are sick, but you do not have a doctor.
  2. You are injured, but your injury is not life threatening (You will not die because your problem is not serious). You don’t want to wait at the E.R. and pay for the E.R., but you need to see a doctor.
  3. You are sick or injured, and your regular doctor’s office is closed. Most Urgent Care offices are open on weekends and in the evening during the week.

To find an Urgent Care near you, search the internet for “urgent care near me.”

Police Station

You probably will not need to visit a police station, but you can. They are safe places to go if you need help, and you can also find information at the police station about all kinds of things. For example, you can get information about domestic violence, calling 9-1-1, and more

Fire Station

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

There are many fire stations in Wake County. You probably live very close to one. Fire stations are also safe places to go if you need any kind of help. Firefighters can:

  • check your home for fire hazards (things that might cause a fire) and help you make your home more safe
  • check the baby seat in your car to make sure that it is installed correctly
  • help you in a medical emergency
  • talk to groups of children or adults about fire safety
  • show you the fire station, fire equipment, and fire trucks

How to Call 9-1-1

If you have an emergency, you should call 911. DO NOT CALL 919. The phone number for emergencies is different in every country. In the United States, we call 9-1-1. Here are some instructions for calling 9-1-1:

  1. Wait for the operator to answer.
  2. When the operator answers the phone, try to stay calm.
  3. Speak slowly and clearly. Describe your problem.
  4. Give your name and phone number.
  5. Give your location. Give an address if you can. If you don’t know the address, or if you are not at an address (on the highway, maybe), tell where you are.
  6. DO NOT END THE CALL. Stay on the phone.
  7. Answer the operator’s questions.

If you do not speak English, just say, “Help.” Do not end the call. Stay on the phone, and wait for the fire department, police, and ambulance to arrive.

Your Turn

Discuss these questions with your classmates, or ask your teacher:

  1. You think you have broken your toe. Should you go to the hospital or to Urgent Care?
  2. You think you have broken your arm. Should you go to the hospital or to Urgent Care?
  3. How can you find an Urgent Care near you?
  4. Name 3 situations when you should visit Urgent Care, not the E.R.
  5. Who will the doctor see first in the E.R. – someone who has pain in their chest or someone who has pain in their leg? Why?
  6. If you have a medical emergency, can you go to the fire department? Why or why not?
  7. Where should you go to make sure your baby’s car seat is safe?
  8. What is the emergency phone number in the United States?
  9. What should you do if you call the emergency number but don’t speak much English?
  10. If you do not feel safe in your home, where can you go for help?

Community Buildings and Places – Government

For the next several weeks, we’re going to talk about buildings and places in the community. All cities and towns in the United States have some of these places. This week, we’re going to talk about government buildings and what happens there.

City/Town Hall

Every city and town needs a place for the local government workers to work. A city hall or town hall might contain offices for the mayor (the head of government in a city or town) and other government officials, and it may have a space where the city or town council can meet. This council is a group of people who make decisions for a community. They decide which projects are the most important. These projects could be parks, playgrounds, sidewalks, new buildings, libraries, garbage collection, street lights, or many other things. A large city or town hall could have an auditorium where members of the community can come for meetings. At these meetings, community members can talk about problems in their neighborhoods or projects they want to do to improve their community.

Municipal Building

photo by WTCC instructor

photo by WTCC instructor

A municipal building is similar to a town hall, but it probably does not have an auditorium for town meetings. It probably only has offices and rooms for small groups, like the town council, to meet. Raleigh’s municipal building is called the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex. It holds offices for city government administration, and Raleigh’s city council meets there. The building was named after a former mayor of Raleigh. It is located on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh.


By Daderot (I took this photograph.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A courthouse is a government building for a county (not a city). All kinds of “legal” things happen there. You will probably need to go to the courthouse if:

  • you are arrested.
  • you take legal action against someone (or someone takes legal action against you).
  • you want to get married.
  • you want to get divorced.
  • you want to adopt a child.
  • you want to register a business.
  • you are called to jury duty.
  • you get a traffic ticket.

Judges and some kinds of lawyers have offices at the courthouse.

Capitol Building

By Jim Bowen from Fort Worth, US [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Because Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina, it has state government buildings in addition to city and county government buildings. The NC Capitol is located in downtown Raleigh. Many years ago, North Carolina’s General Assembly (law-makers) met in this building. Now, the governor, Pat McCrory, and lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, have their offices here. A governor is the head official of a state. A lieutenant governor is the person who will become the governor if the governor dies or cannot continue in his/her office. The United States has a president and a vice president. North Carolina has a governor and a lieutenant governor.

Legislative Building

By Abbylabar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As the population of NC grew, we needed more representatives in our state government. We needed more people to represent us, more people to make laws for us. These people make up the General Assembly. They used to have their meetings in the Capitol Building, but now there are too many of them for that space, so they meet in the Legislative Building, which is also in downtown Raleigh.

Your Turn

Can you answer these questions from this post?

  1. What is the difference between a town hall and a municipal building?
  2. What is a city council? What does it do?
  3. Where does Raleigh’s city council meet?
  4. Name three reasons you might go to the county courthouse.
  5. Name two state government buildings.
  6. Where does the NC General Assembly meet?
  7. Who is Pat McCrory, and where is his office?
  8. Who is NC’s lieutenant governor?
  9. Where is the NC Legislative Building?
  10. What happens in the Legislative Building?

Rip Van Winkle

“Rip Van Winkle” is a short story that was written by American author Washington Irving. Irving was born in New York City at the end of the American Revolution (the war in which Americans gained independence from Great Britain). Many things changed before and after the American Revolution, and “Rip Van Winkle” is a story about those changes.

The main character in the story is a man named Rip Van Winkle. He lives in the Catskill Mountains in New York, and everyone loves him. His only problem is that his wife always nags (asks or demands again and again and again…) him to do more work around the house. He is tired of listening to her, so one day, he walks up into the mountains with his dog. He meets some men who are carrying beer, and he starts drinking with them. He falls asleep, and when he wakes up, everything is different. His dog is gone. His beard is a foot long (about 30 cm). His gun is rusty.

Rip walks down to his village, but he doesn’t know anyone, and he thinks their clothes are strange. The houses are new, and the village is bigger. His own house is old, dirty, and falling apart. Rip notices that the people seem different. They used to be relaxed, but now they are very busy. When he left, there was a picture of King George III (King of England at the time of the American Revolution) in the inn, but now, there is a picture of George Washington (hero of the Revolutionary War and 1st president of the United States). Rip Van Winkle slept through the whole war! He slept for 20 years!

After such a long time, Rip’s wife is dead, and his children are adults. Rip used to be an important man, but the people in the village do not know him now. Finally, an old woman identifies him. Then Rip’s daughter takes him home to live with her family, and he spends every day at the inn, where he tells his story to everyone. Some people find him strange and interesting. Some people are jealous because he escaped his wife and slept through the war. Some people like hearing about the old days. But everyone knows his story.

Wake County Public Libraries

Map of Wake County Public Libraries

Screenshot of Map of Wake County Public Libraries

Did you know that there is probably a library near your house? It’s true. Wake County has 20 libraries! Click the map to find the one closest to you.

The library is not just for books.

Yes, the library has LOTS of books for you and your family, but it has so much more too! Wake County Public Libraries have computers with internet access and FREE events for adults, kids, and teenagers. You can take a music class, join a discussion group, hear stories, learn job skills, work on your resumé, and more! You can also volunteer at the library. Just fill out the application, and take it to your nearest library.

How can I get a library card?

You must have a library card to use some of the library’s services. To get a library card, go to the nearest library with one of these:

  • a photo ID with a Wake County address on it (driver’s license or permit)
  • a photo ID (passport) and something to show that you live in Wake County (probably a bill – phone bill, electricity bill, water bill, etc. – or apartment lease)

Tell the librarian (person who works in the library) that you would like a library card. The librarian will ask you for your ID and proof of residency (something to show that you live) in Wake County. If you live in Wake County, your library card will be free. If you live in another county, you can get a Wake County library card for $25 per year.

For more information, visit the library’s website.

Your Turn

Do you have a library card? How often do you go to the library? Find one event that you would like to attend at the library. Ask your classmates to go with you!

Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving

Many students know the history of Thanksgiving. Pilgrims (people who left England for religious freedom and new opportunities) moved to the northeastern part of the United States to start a new life. It was very difficult in the beginning, and a lot of people died. However, the British and the Native Americans became friends, and soon, there was enough food for everyone. They celebrated their success for three days in 1621, and that was the first Thanksgiving.

Here are some things you might NOT know about Thanksgiving:

  • The pilgrims probably didn’t eat many of the foods at the first Thanksgiving that Americans eat now. They probably did not have turkey, pumpkin pie, or potatoes!
  • George Washington announced the first national Thanksgiving holiday in 1789, 168 years after the pilgrims celebrated the first time.
  • In 1829, a woman named Sara Josepha Hale started writing letters to the president because she wanted Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. At that time, each state decided when it would celebrate. She wrote letters for 30 years! She wrote letters to at least five different presidents.
  • Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the whole country would celebrate Thanksgiving on the final Thursday in November. This happened during the Civil War, and President Lincoln was trying to keep the country together. Maybe he hoped that a national holiday would help everyone feel united again.
  • In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Thanksgiving one week earlier. This was during the Great Depression, and Roosevelt wanted to give people more time to shop for Christmas presents so that businesses could get more money.
  • In 1941, Roosevelt officially changed the day of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Every year, the president pardons (forgives, or gives no punishment to) a turkey on Thanksgiving. That turkey gets to retire on a farm instead of being eaten by a family.

This video includes all of the information I just gave you. Watch, listen, and see how much you can understand.

Your Turn

The answers to these questions are also in the video. Write a comment, and tell us which ones you heard!

  1. How many deer did the Indians kill to give as gifts to the colonists?
  2. What do we call the meat of a deer?
  3. How did the pilgrims eat cranberries at the first Thanksgiving?
  4. Why did Sara Josepha Hale want to have a Thanksgiving celebration?
  5. Name 3 recipes written by Sara Josepha Hale.
  6. How did people feel about President Roosevelt moving the date of Thanksgiving?
  7. Who was the first president to pardon a turkey?

Memorial Day

Next Monday, May 26, is a national holiday called Memorial Day.  It is always celebrated on the last Monday in May.   On this day, we remember the soldiers and  Americans who have died while  serving in the Armed Forces .  We remember them in many ways:

  • Many towns have parades with bands playing marching music. Soldiers and veterans march in these parades.
  • People visit cemeteries  and put flowers and flags on the graves of fallen soldiers.
  • The American flag is flown at half- mast ( mid way on the flag pole) until noon.
  • The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol and is televised to the nation.

Learn more about this holiday and practice the vocabulary used to describe this holiday at this site => ESOL Courses – Memorial Day    and at the El Civics  site.

This video from the History Channel tells us how Memorial Day became a national holiday

and this video wordlessly makes us realize the tremendous sacrifice that our military service people and their families have made for America.


Is there a special day, like Memorial Day , in your country to remember the soldiers who have died?  What are the customs in your country to honor them?


On a lighter note, Memorial Day creates a three-day weekend for many people and marks the unofficial start of summer. Many beaches and parks open up for the summer on Memorial Day week-end.

What will you do on Memorial Day?


Learning about Presidents Day.

Every third Monday in February, we take time to remember all the Presidents of our country and in particular we honor two very important Presidents of United States:

  • George Washington, the first President and “Father of our Country”
  • Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President and “Preserver of the Union”.

photo by Patrick Ashley attribution generic 2.0 (BY CC SA 2.0)

Washington helped create  the United States. He was the  leader of the American army during the American Revolutionary War.  He took an army of ordinary people (farmers, merchants) and successfully  defeated Great Britain, a  world power.

In 1783 , after  the war ended, Washington was  happy to go back to his family and farm at Mount Vernon. However the  nation soon needed him again.   In 1789, he was asked to be the first President of this very young nation. Washington really did not want to be president.  But everyone voted for him because of the trust they had in him. and he was voted in with 100% of the electoral votes. No other president has ever been elected with  100% of the  votes. He was “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen”.

He did many great things for America during his presidency but maybe what he didn’t do is just as important.  He didn’t become an “king” and rule the  nation for life. After two presidential terms, he refused to  run again and nearly all American Presidents have followed his example.


photo by cliff1066 attribution generic 2.0 (BY CC SA 2.0)

Lincoln kept the United States from breaking up into different countries.  The states in the North and the  states in the South had been arguing with each other for many years over slavery. Many people, mostly in the Southern states, believed that they could own people (slaves) as property.  Others, mostly in the Northern states, believed that this was wrong and slaves should be free.   Eleven  southern states tried to leave the union and form a new country, ” the Confederate States of America” and this began the Civil War.  The Civil War was the bloodiest war in American’s history where (over 600,000 people died).   This war not only divided the nation, but families and friends were on opposite sides of the battleground. It was a terrible time for the nation.

Lincoln, a wise and compassionate  president,  was able to lead the North to victory and the Union was saved.  During the war, he also ended slavery by first freeing slaves under  the Emancipation Proclamation and then by working with Congress to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution that banned slavery from the nation.

He inspired the nation then and continues  to inspires Americans today with his vision of America  – “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

As you enjoy the day, give thanks to these Presidents and to all our Presidents who have served America .

For more information, look at these El Civics lessons : Presidents Day  , George Washington    and   Abraham Lincoln

To see  all the Presidents  look at this unusual video

This funny little tune can also help you learn about President’s Day  (and a three day week-end)

Now check how much you know …. click on the link for  the Presidents Day Quiz