- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Jasmine Barber, Tichina Ward and Angel Patton spent Saturday at a summer safety day doing what they love — helping the community, getting the word out about safety and supporting Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department’s Company 12.
They’ve been members of Company 12 since February, going on calls with EMS and said they rolled up on scenes that are intense, heartbreaking and jarring.
They also have come across some injuries that could have been prevented if simple steps had been taken.
“Put your seat belt on,” Tichina, 17, advised.
“Click it or ticket, Jack,” Angel, 16, chimed in.
The two teens are students at Westlake High School who want to go into the medical field (Barber, 21, wants to be an in-flight paramedic) and figured joining the fire department would aid in those pursuits.
Tichina and Angel are aiming to join the fire cadet program and said clocking their mandatory 20 volunteer hours at the house isn’t difficult.
“Once you’re at your 20 hours, you don’t want to leave,” Angel said.
Volunteering at Charles County Summer Safety Day was just another way they could help out and pitch in, giving tours of the ambulance while wearing pink plastic firefighter helmets and showing the equipment EMS personnel use to help others.
Working together for safety’s sake
The summer safety event is the first one held in the county, said Ginger Barnes, paramedic and community outreach coordinator for the Charles County Department of Emergency Services.
Representatives of different agencies such as the Charles County Department of Health, volunteer fire departments, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, Charles County Dive Rescue, Washington Gas Co. and the Maryland State Police gathered at Regency Furniture Stadium to offer tips on staying safe in the summer when the heat is on and swimming pools, bicycles and hiking trails beckon.
The more you know
Ron Rennick, a safety manager with SMECO, along with journeymen lineman Jeremy Green and Doug Hancock, held a “hot line” demonstration to warn of the dangers of handling electrical wires and what to do during summer power outages.
The health department’s environmental health and child health programs had information available ranging from food allergies to safe sleeping habits, from how to avoid and treat tick bites to child safety seat regulations.
“Anything can happen,” said Dr. James C. Bridgers Jr., deputy health officer with the health department.
Making sure the community is prepared in case of emergency is the first step to a safe season, he said.
“How do you know when mayonnaise has gone bad?” asked Barnes, warning about the importance of food safety in summer.
Safe food handling was only one of the issues addressed by the safety event, while some were preventative measures to make sure fun times didn’t turn dire.
Barnes said her department sees an increase in child deaths due to drowning in pools, rivers and ponds once the weather turns warm. There are emergency calls for burns resulting from grills, fires and fireworks.
The summer safety day isn’t unique to Charles County.
“It’s a public education program about getting the word out to stay safe in the summer,” Barnes said, adding that after a winter bundled up and pretty much hunkering down inside, people are ready to take advantage of the higher temperatures, but they can make simple changes to ensure everyone has a good summer.
Alarms on doors and fences around pools likely will keep a child from drowning. Making sure life jackets fit and child safety seats are installed properly takes time but is worth it.
Amy Copeland-Zimmerman, health promotions specialist with the hospital, said car seat laws have changed.
The law requires that children younger than 8 who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches have to ride in a car or booster seat.
Copeland-Zimmerman also wanted to get the word out about not leaving children and pets in a car, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
The state police placed a thermometer in a car at the event, and within five minutes the inside of the car reached 109 degrees.
“Prevention is the key,” Copeland-Zimmerman said.
Kids at play
Children know the rules. Cousins Felix Cohl, 7, visiting from Las Vegas, and Lukas Barba of La Plata, 8, know they have to wear helmets when they ride their bikes.
“Because you can fall off and bump your head,” said Felix on why he makes sure he grabs his lid when he gets on his bike.
Regina Turnbull of Waldorf and her daughter Dalilah, 5, come out to events like the summer safety day so Dalilah won’t fear police officers and firefighters.
It seems to be paying off. Dressed in a blue gingham dress, her dark hair in pigtails, Dalilah, with a little help, clambered up into a fire truck’s driver’s seat and asked that the door be shut. After looking around a bit, she was ready to go to work.
“Where’s the key,” she asked, leaning out the window.
Damian West, a former volunteer with the Charles County Rescue Squad and the Newburg Volunteer Fire Department, brought two of his four children (the other two were already booked with birthday parties) to the event.
He wanted his daughters Katlyn, 14, and Sara, 10, to learn tips that will keep them safe.
“We want them to know what to do when we’re not there,” West said.
Stephanie Berry, who brought her children Leanne, 10, and Thomas, 5, to the event, is on the same page as West when it comes to equipping kids with knowledge that could be life saving.
“Kids need to learn this stuff,” Berry said.
“You have to keep doing it,” Heather Dautrich, a seven-year veteran of Company 12 and mother of two said about teaching safety. “You have to reiterate it. [Safety] has to become a habit.”