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Norris Elementary Celebrates Fire Prevention Week

Norris Elementary Celebrates Fire Prevention Week

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

_DSC8305 (Medium)By John Skretta, Asst. Supt.Norris Elementary observed national Fire Prevention Week on October the 7thwith interactive teaching demonstrations from 28 local volunteers who serve the community as emergency response personnel for various local fire and rescue departments.  Principal Dr. Bob Brandt helped facilitate the highly interactive event, which included rescue ambulances, tankers and pumpers, a Crete fire safety training trailer, and even the presence of a rescue helicopter from Lincoln trauma center Bryan-LGH which made a very dramatic landing on the grassy knoll west of the kindergarten wing, to the delight of students present.“We are very interested in ensuring that our students are able to act in a proper manner whenever there is danger,” Dr. Brandt said, summarizing the basic purpose of the day’s activities.  “Fire is one those dangers that can pose itself in the lives of our children; not the only one, certainly, but the one we’re focused on today.  We want kids to be able to respond appropriately in emergencies involving fire whether they are at school, at home, or in vehicles.”The large volunteer group of community members was organized by Bruce Messenger of Hickman Fire and Rescue and occupied most of the circle drive and perimeter of the parking lot north of the kindergarten wing at the Elementary school.  “Our ultimate goal,” Messenger explained, “is to run ourselves out of business through training.  Obviously that’s not really going to happen, but the more aware and knowledgeable kids are about fire safety, the fewer incidents there will be and the more likely the kids will respond with the training they have been equipped with in an actual emergency.” 

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Messenger went on to describe how the Norris bus accident which occurred on August 24th was a vivid example of how students who are empowered through training respond in a crisis.  “Those kids are the real heroes of that day,” he said.  “They used the training you guys [Norris District] provide on bus evacuation drills and they did exactly what they were supposed to do.  They got out quickly and efficiently and they moved a safe distance away from the scene.”   He described one of the goals of today’s interactive experience as helping kids understand how to “evacuate themselves” in an emergency. Messenger also indicated parents have a key role in continuing fire prevention education at home: “The fact is, prevention keeps fires down but it’s still very important that parents train evacuation routes at home.  The same training that is done at school in school buildings and on buses needs to be done at home, teaching your kids where a safe, centralized place is in the event of an evacuation.  Ask your kids, ‘Does everyone know where to go?’”Judging by the obvious excitement Norris Elementary kids displayed as they got to enter the emergency vehicles and explore the fire trucks, Messenger’s other motive, recruitment of future rescue personnel and volunteers, was also being met.  He said “Hey, this is a great recruiting tool for us, too.  These kids out here today are our future replacements.” Observing the excitement and enthusiasm the students displayed, Jerry Vrbka of Cortland Fire and Rescue commented, “These are some of the experiences I remember most as a kid.  I remember when Leon Tenhulzen came out and spoke to us when I was a student at Norris Elementary.  This is just a really great thing for us to be able to do and a way to give back to the community.” The Norris District thanks the volunteers and the local fire and rescue departments who made the interactive Fire Prevention Week event possible.  We appreciate your time, talent, and dedication!