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May 1, 2013

Seminar aims to keep students safe

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Center Line High School firefighter teacher Robert Plotzke, center, talks to Roose Elementary students about fire safety as students in the firefighting class behind him put on their protective gear.

WARREN — Walking through the hallways at Roose Elementary School dressed in firefighting protective gear, Center Line High School senior Shawna Goodfellow definitely stood out as she and her classmates in the new CLHS firefighting class made a student safety day presentation April 15.

The event offered plenty of activity. Inside the school, CLHS Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students entered information about the Roose students into the Rapid Child Rescue system, and Roose Principal Sheila O’Kane read to students about strangers.

Outside the school, students checked out the inside of a patrol car, courtesy of several Center Line Public Safety Department members. Waving to a public safety officer as he maneuvered the ladder truck mid-air was all part of the action, and those with permission slips went inside the department’s smokehouse. They also had a chance to learn about the various tools needed when putting out a blaze.

Through the Southwest Macomb Technical Education Consortium, firefighting, emergency medical service and law enforcement classes are offered at CLHS. Taught by Robert Plotzke and Dominic Calderone, the classes offer the basics in each profession and also provide on-the-field experiences. Classes are offered not just to Center Line students, but neighboring districts, as well.

Last month’s safety seminar gave the high school students the opportunity for several hands-on activities. It also brought them closer to the neighborhood.

“This is our students helping younger people about the dangers of fire,” Plotzke said. “We want our students to be involved in our community. That’s what makes a community stronger.”

When the Roose students first came outside, the student firefighters — in all their protective gear — walked through the crowd, shaking hands and saying hello.

Plotzke wanted the young students to hear how the firefighters sounded when speaking through a breathing apparatus. A firefighter wearing so much gear and talking through it can sometimes frighten children. Plotzke reminded them not to be afraid of a firefighter, should a fire occur.

“I want you to understand these firemen; sometimes their gear makes noise,” Plotzke said.

“It’s a lot of fun. I love kids,” Warren Woods Tower senior Ashley Sexton said of the safety program. She is enrolled in the firefighter and EMS classes. “I think it’s important they know how to keep safe.”  

The SMTEC program is ideal for Sexton.

“We learn all the basics and everything you need to do to keep yourself safe. It is a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun at the same time,” Sexton said. “It’s always been my dream to be a firefighter. It’s always been a dream of mine to save people.”

Goodfellow also is enjoying the firefighting class.

“I took the class to understand how fire starts. There are so many different ways,” she said. “It’s basic life-saving. We learn first-aid. I just wanted to learn about it. We learn about building construction. You learn about types of roofs.”

Goodfellow plans to join the U.S. Army in September and eventually become a military police officer. The firefighter class is giving her a foundation.

Also at the safety seminar was Ed Copley, international director for Kid Safe Network, which offers the Rapid Child Rescue System, an online program that looks for missing children. The program uses a photo of a child, including basic information, and places it into the system. Their photos and physical profile data are contained in a highly secure location.

“We take the picture of a child. That picture goes into a worldwide database that can be accessed anywhere in the world,” Copley said. “The system is operated by the parents. You first register your child. If your child becomes missing, you call the 911 center. The parents give their email address through a code.”

If a child goes missing, parents need to contact their police department and provide law enforcement with the Rapid Child Rescue website address, the missing person’s Parent Advocated Service Technology (P.A.S.T.) card number and their  password.

Police will be able to connect to the Rapid Child Rescue System, obtain a current photo and a physical profile of the child. Law enforcement officers will be able to instantly initiate a search with the missing person’s photos and profile information.

Copley said the program works within a matter of seconds. “When a child is harmed or goes missing, that harm will come within the first two hours,” Copley said.

For more information on the program, visit www.rapidchildrescue.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.