10/14/2009 9:52:00 AM Young people learn safety in a non-threatening
YCSO Animal Control Officer Sherri Ochoa demonstrates to Humboldt Elementary School students the equipment she uses to catch stray animals. HES hosts a Safety Day each year to acquaint students with local public safety officers.
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
Eight years ago, Russ and Lori Dodge set about introducing young children to emergency personnel in a non-threatening way.
Safety Day at Humboldt Elementary School has evolved into a day in which local agencies demonstrate equipment and talk about how their jobs might affect students and their families.
Participating in this past week's event on the HES athletic fields were Prescott Police Department Canine Unit, Patriot Disposal, Yavapai Bottle Gas, Arizona Power Service, Lifeline Ambulance, Central Yavapai Fire District, Native Air Ambulance, Tri City Towing, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, MDI Rock dump truck, Yavapai Plumbing and Heating, and Arizona Department of Public Safety, for which Russ Dodge works.
Often childrens' first exposure to police officers or firefighters is because of a traumatic incident, or sometimes under unfavorable conditions. Dodge said Safety Day gives the children an inside look into how officers and workers help and protect youngsters.
Students learned about police dogs from the Prescott Police canine unit and had a chance to pet Deuce or Basso. At another station, YC Animal Control Officer Sherri Ochoa instructed children on what to do if confronted by an angry dog.
"Stand still. Don't look in its eyes. Back away and say, 'No! Go home!'" Ochoa said, demonstrating.
She also said to use a jacket or backpack to stuff into a dog's mouth if it tries to bite, and explained some of the equipment and traps used to catch stray animals.
Rollover Randy was a popular rotation in which Dodge was set up with a simulated vehicle cab hanging in a frame on a trailer.
"How many of you wear your seat belts?" he asked a group of third-graders, and all hands shot up.
Dodge turned on the contraption, which rolled over several times as if it were somersaulting down an embankment. The dummy, although shaken up a bit, "survived" upright in the seat.
"Shall we see what happens when I take the seat belt off?" Dodge asked. On the third rotation, the dummy flew out the window and landed face down, limbs askew, shirt over its head, to gasps and cries of "Cool!"
This annual event has become a favorite for the students and staff at the school, and is open to the public, charter schools and preschools.
"I have students who are now in junior high and high school who remember Safety Day," Dodge said over the sound of students testing horns and sirens. "Some years the trash trucks are favorites. This year we added the canine officers."
Although in other years a helicopter would land on the field, this year it circled a couple of times to cheers from the children before flying off.