Hamlet police, fire officials: ‘We’re here if they need us’

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — The top of their heads sometimes didn’t even reach the height of the headlights on the firetrucks.

The idea of Monroe Avenue Elementary School kindergarteners and a walking tour  by  of the Hamlet police and fire departments served a major purpose — big or little, first-responders are here to help.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Monroe Avenue Elementary School kindergarten students toured the Hamlet Fire Department on Thursday.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Monroe Avenue Elementary School kindergarten students toured the Hamlet Fire Department on Thursday.

Interim kindergarten teacher Nancy Wiglesworth, with more than 40 years’ experience in the classroom, said students are sometimes exposed to public safety agency personnel in “negative situations.” The idea is to promote law enforcement officers and first-responders as “community helpers.”

Hamlet Police Officer Annette Gooselin is on fully board with the concept. Though the students are each about 5 years old, officers want children of any age to know that “they can always come to the police for anything. We’re here if they need us.”

Assistant Fire Chief Calvin White did his best to make sure that was true. Through a mix of voice fluctuation, quiet speaking and dry humor appropriate for both the students and adult chaperones alike, White guided the students through the fire station’s watch room, bunk area, kitchen and bay. When questions were raised, he answered them — even if some of them were a bit personal.

The always-fascinating subject of age came up, and some of the youngsters realized that White was a little bit older than their peers.

“Oh, I am old,” said White, 58. “I started out young … but that’s been a loooooong time ago.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Firefighting equipment is expensive, said Calvin White, assistant chief with the Hamlet Fire Department. The equipment he's pointing to here has a price tag of about $30,000.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Firefighting equipment is expensive, said Calvin White, assistant chief with the Hamlet Fire Department. The equipment he’s pointing to here has a price tag of about $30,000.

He was able to mix in the laughter with the lessons. Always, he said, know two ways out of any room in the event of an emergency. He conveyed the message not so much from the unfamiliar room inside the fire hall, but related it to rooms the students knew — classroom, a friend’s bedroom, or those in their own homes.

Know the path to safety and take it.

“Once you get out,” White said, “what do you do?”

Twice, in unison, the children responded in force: “Get out and stay out!”

“I like this group,” White said.

Firefighting is an expensive business, White said. A firefighter wears gear with about $10,000 and training for EMT, firefighting and hazardous material certification costs additional money.

While that might sound like a heavy load, White put it on a level the students could understand.

“It’s all about learning,” he said.

While four firefighters stay at the fire hall on the cat eye shift, White said he and Chief David Knight are always available to respond. He showed the students how firefighters communicate through two-way radios, from the watch room to each fire truck — each firefighter has a call sign, Knight is 401 and White is 402. In addition, each vehicle has a number, he said, such as Rescue 1, Ladder 1 or Tanker 5.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Officer Eddie enjoyed a cool spot on the grass outside the Hamlet Police Department.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Officer Eddie enjoyed a cool spot on the grass outside the Hamlet Police Department.

Marshall, a kindergarten student, asked where the pole that firefighters are supposed to slide down was. White explained that it’s now the flagpole, and used by firefighters when the city had a two-story fire station.

Michael wanted to know what the boat was for.

Water rescues, White said, “or the worst part of what happens there also.”

White helmets were for officials, black for shift leaders and red for firemen, White said.

Next door at the police department, Gooselin gave students a walking tour through the narrow hallways of police HQ. Inside the front lobby was a display case that stored a number of handguns, knives and even cash. All that, Gooselin said, was “taken from the bad guys.”

Gooselin briefly explained how the chain of custody works for evidence, and how important it is to know how many people, and who, have handled each piece of evidence. That way, she said, the case remains pure from the start of an investigation to when it reaches the courtroom.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Evidence, including handguns, knives and cash, inside a display case attracts students' attention.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Evidence, including handguns, knives and cash, inside a display case attracts students’ attention.

Officer David Ferron, and K-9 Officer Eddie were big hits to finish up the students’ trip before heading to Pat’s Kitchen in Rockingham for a meal donated by the restaurant. Ferron said Eddie is a Czech Shepherd, similar to a German Shepherd, and answers commands in the Dutch language.

Other stops during the day-long field trip included the fairgrounds — the 57th annual Richmond County Agricultural Fair goes through Saturday — and the Hamlet Depot and Museum.

 

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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