Safety fair aims to keep children safe over summer

By Jason E. Silvers
Fort Scott Tribune – April 29, 2015

With the end of another school year and the summer months approaching, local emergency personnel plan to educate local youth about staying safe during their summer break.

Law enforcement, fire and emergency response personnel from various local agencies are scheduled to be present for a safety fair to take place Friday, May 8 at Fort Scott Middle School, 1105 E. 12th St.

Fort Scott Police Department School Resource Officer Joseph Allen said the event will take place from about 12:45 to 3 p.m. and will involve activities both inside the school building and in the school parking lot. Various educational stations will be set up and students will be served hot dogs and drinks.

Personnel representing various agencies will talk with students and answer any questions they have, and will also have vehicles and equipment on hand for students to look through, Allen said.

The annual educational event was started several years ago by FSPD Officer Craig Rice, who has said the event began when he and a former Fort Scott police chief got together to “do something for the schools” and connect local emergency workers and students.

“We’ve done it every year with different agencies present,” Allen said. “It’s the same focus as far as educating kids before they go out for the summer on the different aspects of different safety to pay attention to.”

Allen said this year, the focus of the event will be on the more educational aspects of summer safety and it will not just simply be a “meet and greet”-style event.

“I’m trying to change it to be more educational for the kids,” he said.

Planned activities to go along with this goal include Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks staff handing out information about water and swimming safety to students, as well as Mercy EMS personnel being on hand to discuss safety and avoiding injuries, Allen said.

“He (Rice) started it several years ago,” Allen said. “I’m just trying to continue from that and build on it.”

Local agencies expected to participate include the FSPD, the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Scott Fire Department, Mercy EMS and KDWP. Allen said a medical helicopter is also expected to land in the FSMS parking lot during the afternoon for students to check out.

“I’m trying to get Scott Township (fire department) to show off a few of their trucks,” he said. “My SAFE (Seatbelts Are For Everyone) team will be there handing out different things.”

The Kansas Highway Patrol, which normally has a presence at the event, will not be on hand due to a prior obligation, Allen said. KHP typically brings a crash simulator which gives students a chance to experience the feel of a vehicle impact while wearing a seatbelt.

Allen said he will show students the Fatal Vision goggles, which simulate the effects of being intoxicated. He said a simulation will be set up in which students will be asked to throw a tennis ball, perform simple movements or multi-task while wearing the goggles. The idea is to give students an idea of the difficulty involved in performing these tasks and how their vision is affected if they were to become intoxicated.

Students will be able to learn about water and swimming safety as well as other general outdoor safety topics. Allen said goals for the event include educating students and also making sure students don’t feel uneasy around emergency personnel.

“We want to educate as many as we can on being safe and having fun,” he said. “It’s also about meeting law and emergency personnel and being comfortable.”

Allen said a schedule of activities has not been finalized.

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