Monday, November 5, 2012
By: RICHARD TEDESCO The Island Now, New Hyde Park Herald
All the New Hyde Park Fire Department vehicles and firefighters that arrived at the New Hyde Park Road School last Thursday only made it appear that there was an emergency inside.
Instead, the firefighters were there to perform a vital, but non-emergency mission - giving life-saving lessons to the students about what to do in emergencies.
"We're giving them tips on how to get out of their home safely, that sort of thing," said New Hyde Park Fire Department Assistant Chief Paul Sokol.
October is fire safety month and the firefighters sought to teach the grade schoolers the importance of safety and about what firemen actually do, according to Road School principal Peggy Merenghi.
"The kids are fascinated by it. They learn there’s more to it than shooting water at a building," Merenghi said.
The kids had an opportunity to walk through the cabs of a pump truck and a bucket truck, and stand inside the bucket and ask questions about how all the equipment works. They received a primer on some of the techniques and equipment used on the rescue truck, and had questions answered about the some of the equipment.
One third grader immediately knew that an axe was for breaking down doors that might be locked in an emergency situation.
"It's really cool," Jordan, a third grader with eyes wide, said as he emerged from the cab of one truck.
Third grade teacher Dominique Dunn said another aspect of the firemen’s visit was to teach the children “not to be afraid, to realize what it’s about and know the firemen are here to help us.”
The New Hyde Park Road School visit was the third stop the New Hyde Park volunteers had made this month, bringing messages of fire safety to elementary schools in the area, including the Hillside Grade School and the Trinity Lutheran School.
During each visit, they gave students a Fire Safety coloring book, which showed illustrations of firemen wearing their equipment and included lessons about the emergency number to call at the fire department. The book provided do’s and don’ts in fire emergencies - crawl low to exit rooms; never hide in a closet - as well as instructions on how to perform the drop and roll move if their clothing catches fire.
"I tell them it's homework, that they have to color it with their parents," Sokol said, adding that the information is also beneficial for parents to review.
Sokol said he enjoys how attentive the children are and the many questions they ask.
"They take it very seriously and they enjoy it," Sokol said. "If I can leave an impression on them, that can save their lives."