Open house helps children trust first responders

Photo by Sue Suchyta. Children watch as Allen Park fire fighters demonstrate how crash victims are extricated from vehicles at the Allen Park Fire Department Open House Oct. 9.

Photo by Sue Suchyta. Children watch as Allen Park fire fighters demonstrate how crash victims are extricated from vehicles at the Allen Park Fire Department Open House Oct. 9.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Inviting children to the fire station to meet firefighters is an important way to prevent them from fearing first responders if they need help, Deputy Fire Chief Edward Cann said.

Firefighter demonstrations of hydraulic rescue tools used to extricate people from crashes captivated children and adults Oct. 9 during the annual open house at the station, 6730 Roosevelt Ave.

Cann said they taught children about smoke detectors and what do do when they hear one go off, and adults about stroke recognition and preventing lint dryer fires.

“It’s a good, important community event, to have them really come together,” Cann said.

He said it’s good to hear children know to call 911 if they need help.

“We go to their schools, so just like advertising, it’s a repeated thing,” Cann said. “We hit them here, we hit them at the schools, and whenever we see them, we like to interact with them.”

He said children are fascinated by fire, and it is important to remind them not to play with it, and to remind parents to be vigilant with supervision.

“If a child has a bigger fascination (with fire) than they should, there is a juvenile fire starters program that is set up by the National Fire Protection Association that can help stop that fascination and control it before it gets out of hand,” Cann said. “It is also supported by the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee as well.

“We’re glad to have the community here.”

Firefighter and paramedic Jason Pelty said community interaction is important to the department.

“We do our part serving the community every day, and this is just a little better chance to actually see people not in our normal circumstances, which are never the best,” Pelty said. “So it’s nice to see people with a smile on their face. We see them during their worst times.”

He said it is fun to see the children having fun and interacting and having photos taken with costumed mascot Sparky the fire dog.

Pelty said firefighters visit with kindergarten and first grade children to teach them fire safety, including “stop, drop and roll,” a fire safety technique to minimize injury when clothes catch on fire, and about the 911 system.

“We even get to try and tell them to yell at their parents to pull over to the right when they see emergency vehicles,” Pelty said.

Maggie Mews of Dearborn, who brought her children Malachi, 3, and Regina, 5, to the open house, said it is important for them to see firefighters and know what they look like.

Regina said she has a toy phone at home she used to learn how to dial 911.

“They know that they have lots of people there to help them in case of an emergency,” Mews said of her children. “They were very interested in seeing the cars being taken apart, and they loved being able to sit in the fire truck. It was just a good hands-on experience for them.”

Sharon Carr of Allen Park said her grandson Nathan Melnyk, 4, is fascinated by police and firefighters.

Nathan, who checked out all of the fire trucks at the station, and actually sat in one, said “it is awesome.”

“He thinks they are great,” Carr said. “He plays this at home, and to be around them and talk to them, it’s just great for him.”

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)

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