Fire Safety camp ends

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 8, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

As their children trudged through the door of the Suffolk Fire Department Station on White Marsh Road on Friday afternoon, a collective gasp went up from the room full of parents. One girl had several bandages wrapped around her head, another’s eye was taped. A boy’s arm hung limply in a sling, his hand full of broken fingers wound in gauze.

It’s a good thing that none of it was real. The Fire and Life Safety Camp and Injury Prevention Program was ending, and the &uot;injuries&uot; were part of the campers’ final drill in first aid.

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&uot;We used the kids to demonstrate different wrappings,&uot; said camp coordinator Pam King, who’s stationed at the Station on Market Street. &uot;We use different bandages for breaks or burns, for example.&uot; Besides first aid, the campers learned about bike, water and, of course, fire safety.

&uot;We don’t want this camp to be like any other,&uot; King said. &uot;They leave here with fire and life safety skills. We ask them to practice their drills with their families, because when a fire strikes, the family needs to get out together.&uot; In its third year, the camp had its highest turnout thus far.

The camp began with a tour of the station, after which the kids watched several safety videos. &uot;We learned that if you’re on the second floor of a house, put blankets under the door so smoke doesn’t come it,&uot; said camper Manny Dwyer. &uot;You’re supposed to take another blanket to the window and wave it so the firefighters can see you. They look scary with all their gear on, but you have to learn not to be scared of them.&uot;

The kids took a quick ride on the fire truck, chatting with walkie-talkies the whole way. They hung out with Sparky the fire dog (a Dalmatian, of course), took turns spraying a fire house (it took two campers), made race cars, learned to tie square knots, and were taught how to escape from a house fire in the department’s &uot;safe house,&uot; which is a makeshift bedroom that firefighters fill with fake smoke, leaving kids to crawl out a nearby window to safety, just a foot off the ground.

One of their more popular activities was an obstacle course, which is a much-watered-down version of what real firefighters go through. They started by running through a small &uot;ravine,&uot; then crawled up ropes, only to find themselves back on level ground again, courtesy of an inflated slide.

&uot;That was fun, but it was really hard,&uot; said Trevor Fletcher, one of several youngsters to call the course his favorite event. &uot;I really want to be a firefighter when I grow up.&uot;