By Anastasia Marchese
A recent event at the Morris County Library got children engaged and eager to know more about the personnel who protect this community and how they do it.
On July 12, between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., half of the library’s parking lot became an outdoor education center focused on first responders and how they help protect and serve.
This was the library’s first ever R.E.A.D. (Responders Encourage Awareness of Danger) safety program. Emergency vehicles were on hand to be explored and at 4 o’clock story time, books pertaining to safety were read by first responders.
“Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Rathmann was read by the Director of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management Jeffrey Paul. This book is a great combination of safety information and incredible humor that engaged the adults as well as young listeners.
A book entitled “Fire Truck” was read by Chief Davidson of the Cedar Knolls Fire Department. This book described the workings of a fire truck and the tools used by firefighters. It reinforced the idea that firefighters are there to help in an emergency. Many children panic and become frightened during a fire or other emergency and may even hide from firefighters. It is important that children understand how firefighters perform their duties, so that children will recognize help when they need it.
Firefighter Connor McGuiness was one of the firefighters from Cedar Knolls who was showing the children the ins and outs of the company’s ladder truck. Some children were trying on the fireman’s jacket and helmet, despite the temperatures into the 90’s. He told the children that the full fireman’s suit is like dressing for a freezing cold winter’s day, it is that insulating. Unfortunately firefighters have to wear them in hot weather and brutal heat conditions. These suits however also insulate and protect the firefighters from the extreme heat and flames of a blaze.
McGuiness also let the children try on the heavy air pack. When children handle equipment, try it on and understand how it works, they are a lot more likely to understand that the monster looking thing that sounds like Darth Vader that is walking towards them in a smoky room, is actually a fireman wearing protective gear.
McGuinness also went through the tools onboard the truck and explained many of their different functions. He explained some of the differences between the ladder truck that was onsite and the company’s fire engine. A ladder truck has water stored in it, but only around 250 gallons. The fire engine has somewhere around 750 gallons of water that it carries to a fire. This ladder truck has a huge hydraulic lift ladder on the top that rose 100 feet into the air.
McGuinness saw one young girl looking up at the extended ladder and asked her if she was afraid of heights. She said no, but when he asked her if she thought it would be scary to climb up the ladder of the truck, she said that it definitely would be frightening. When asked if he had been up that 100 ft. ladder himself, McGuiness replied, “Yea, I’ve done it. It’s scary.”
The Morris County New Jersey EMS Task Force truck was on hand for exploration. Very like a cross between a large ambulance and a hospital on wheels, it gave children an idea of how medical personnel respond in an emergency. The Morris County Mobile Command Center was also open for people to walk through. The walls are lined with two-way radios that can be used to communicate with police throughout the state.
The Child ID unit was on hand making picture ID’s with vital information for area children whose parents wanted to participate.
It was a very hot and sticky event due to weather conditions, but the families who turned out were glad that they did. Beth Marks, mother of two, felt wilted but still had a smile on her face, “It was great for the kids to see the trucks and see what they do.”
For upcoming events at the Morris County Library go to www.mclib.info.