Safety first

Camp teaches kids how to han­dle com­mon dan­gers

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Af­ter hear­ing a fire safety pre­sen­ta­tion, watch­ing a demon­stra­tion by Aetna Hose Hook and Lad­der Com­pany fire­fight­ers and get­ting a tour of a fire engine, Kylie Hughes felt pre­pared.

“If there’s ever a fire, I’ll know what to do and I can tell my par­ents,” the 8-yearold said Tues­day.

That level of pre­pared­ness is the mis­sion be­hind the Ne­wark Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment’s an­nual Safe Kids Camp, which runs all week at the Ge­orge Wil­son Cen­ter. Through a se- ries of lessons and demon­stra­tions, the camp teaches kids how to be safe in all sorts of sit­u­a­tions.

“When I grew up, we didn’t have as many dan­gers as to­day,” camp

in­struc­tor Donna Je­an­dell said. “It’s im­por­tant to teach them at a young age to rec­og­nize those dan­gers.”

The pri­mary mes­sage to the kids is sim­ple.

“Think be­fore you act when it comes to safety,” Je­an­dell said. “Don’t do the first thing that pops into your head.”

This year’s camp touches on top­ics such as pedes­trian safety, emer­gency medicine, how to be safe around an­i­mals and why it’s im­por­tant to wear a seat belt. It will cul­mi­nate in a field trip to Carousel Park for a demon­stra­tion by the New Cas­tle County Mounted Pa­trol Unit.

A num­ber of pub­lic safety or­ga­ni­za­tions are do­ing demon­stra­tions, in­clud­ing the Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment K-9 unit, NPD’s bi­cy­cle of­fi­cers and the Delaware State Po­lice Avi­a­tion Unit.

Tues­day’s ses­sion kicked off with a pre­sen­ta­tion about in­ter­net safety by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Beau Bi­den Foun­da­tion, fol­lowed by the fire safety les­son.

While Aetna’s Irene LaVi­taHar­ris ex­plained the ba­sics of sur­viv­ing a house fire – such as keep­ing low to the ground, check­ing a door for heat be­fore open­ing it and des­ig­nat­ing a meet­ing place out­side the home – fire­fight­ers Marc Doyle and Brad Leifheit donned the pro­tec­tive cloth­ing and masks they wear to en­ter a burn­ing build­ing.

LaVita-Har­ris told the kids that if they’re ever in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion to re­mem­ber that fire­fight­ers are there to help, even though they may seem scary be­cause of what they wear and the sound pro­duced by their breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus.

“It sounds like Darth Vader, right?” she said, prompt­ing laugh­ter.

Next, the ap­prox­i­mately 25 kids ages 5 to 8 went out­side to learn how fire en­gines work and even took turns sit­ting in­side.

The high­light of the day for many kids came when the Delaware State Po­lice he­li­copter swooped over Ge­orge Wil­son Park and kicked up dust as it set down on the base­ball field.

“It was a sand­storm, like a su­per­nova,” cam­per James Bragg, 8, said ex­cit­edly.

Once on the ground, pi­lot Cpl. Steve Grif­fin and flight para­medic Cpl. TJ Aube ex­plained how they use the he­li­copter to fly pa­tients to the hos­pi­tal, search for miss­ing per­sons or crim­i­nals and as­sist other first re­spon­ders on the ground.

“It was re­ally cool they can fly down and help the cops on the ground,” Hughes said, adding that she also en­joyed an ear­lier pre­sen­ta­tion from AAA Mid-At­lantic’s talk­ing car, Otto the Auto.

Cam­per Genevieve Duker, 5, had trou­ble pick­ing out her fa­vorite mo­ment.

“I like the whole en­tire camp,” she said.

Cpl. Adam Mease, the Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment’s school re­source of­fi­cer, spent all week with the campers, teach­ing lessons on bike safety, gun safety and how to safely cross the street. He said it’s good for the campers to be able to ca­su­ally in­ter­act with a cop.

He hopes the campers leave at the end of the week feel­ing bet­ter equipped to han­dle dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions.

“It’s good for them to be learn­ing about things be­fore they hap­pen so they have a heads up if they’re in an ac­ci­dent or a house fire,” he said.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Safe Kids Camp stu­dents get an up-close view of an Aetna fire­fighter on Tues­day. The fire­fighter was demon­strat­ing how he crawls on the ground to avoid smoke in a burn­ing build­ing.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Genevieve Duker, 5, tries on fire­fighter Marc Doyle’s hel­met dur­ing Safe Kids Camp on Tues­day.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Delaware State Po­lice pi­lot Cpl. Steve Grif­fin (left) and flight para­medic Cpl. TJ Aube ex­plain how they use a he­li­copter to fly pa­tients to the hos­pi­tal, search for miss­ing per­sons or crim­i­nals and as­sist other first re­spon­ders on the ground.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Safe Kids Camp stu­dents get a hands-on look at an Aetna Hose, Hook and Lad­der, Co. fire engine.

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