For Bill Collins, spending the better part of two days talking to kids about the importance of public safety is part of the job.
But it’s a part he likes.
“It’s fun for me because I love kids,” said Collins, who wears two hats as both Pembroke public safety director and deputy director of Bryan County Emergency Management Agency.
It’s a good thing, because nearly 1,000 students from Lanier Primary and Bryan County Elementary schools made their way through Pembroke’s Public Safety Day on Wednesday and Thursday at BCES as part of Georgia Cities Week.
Along the way, the students interacted with paramedics, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police officers and Collins, who also works on plans for major emergencies such as hurricane evacuations.
They also got to climb around fire trucks, check out ambulances, watch teachers drive golf cars while wearing goggles designed to simulate various levels of alcohol in a blood stream and tour the county’s high speed mobile EMA vehicle, also known as the Blackhawk.
In a word, it was cool, fourth-graders Jazzlyn Blake and Kevin Fadden said. And it was also worth attending to the two students in Julia Hernandez’s class at BCES.
“If they don’t know so much about safety they can actually end up getting injured and killing themselves,” Jazzlyn said, explaining why it was important to attend.
“I think it wasn’t a waste of time,” he said. “They were real (enlightening), because you learn a lot of information, especially around the firefighter and the ambulance and the police and the Blackhawk. Well, almost all of them. The majority of all of them.”
The event was planned by Downtown Development Authority Director Sharroll Fanslau, who also serves with her husband, Paul, on the city’s fledgling police auxiliary — which also includes Donald and Restie Driggers, Jesse France and Shawn Zackary.
Also among those on hand Thursday were Police Chief Stacy Strickland; Fire Chief Peter Waters, who also serves as the north division chief for the Bryan County Fire Department; and paramedic David McAuley, among others.
They see the time spent showing their jobs as important for the kids — and for the firefighters and paramedics.
“We enjoy getting out and teaching fire safety to the kids,” Waters said, noting students who go through the fire department demonstration learned about smoke detectors and more.
“We’re also talking to them about making sure their address is on their house. That’s something we’re trying to reach out to people about because a lot of people don’t have their addresses posted on their house. And it’s always fun teaching fire safety to kids.”
It’s an approach that apparently works. Pembroke Mayor Mary Warnell said after last year’s Public Safety Day she was stopped by adults who told her what their kids had learned.
“I had adults tell me their child came home and ‘told us we didn’t have a fire extinguisher where we needed it, or we did not have smoke alarms, or did not change batteries in them …’” Warnell said. “So we know they did learn something, because the parents reported it back to us.”
Read more in the April 19 edition of the News.