The Winlock Miller Elementary School's second grade field trip "Day in the Park" is in its 4th or 5th year. Last year, before the field trip, I (Sgt. Randy Pennington) was at the school interacting with students and teacher, Ms. Linnie Farbo. We discussed using the opportunity to have the "local cops and firefighter/ems" do a show and tell with the kids and share a brown bag lunch. I contacted the fire department and they were on board. Because some of the kids live outside the city, I invited the Lewis County Sheriff's Office as well as Washington State Patrol (WSP).
At Day in the Park, the school bussed the kids in groups, one group to the park while the other group was taken to Roy Richards' Renegade Rooster Museum. Then the groups were rotated. The first responders and kids all sat together and had lunch. The shuttle of students continued after lunch until all the kids had opportunities to go to the museum and interact with the first responders. The kids got to ask questions and we gave safety tips. An example was, when you hear sirens don't run out in the street to see the emergency vehicles. They had fun activating our sirens and turning on the emergency vehicle lights. The kids loved seeing body armor placed on Miss Farbo. Another fun thing for the kids was receiving Junior Police badges and trading cards.
The firefighters/EMS were the biggest hit. Last year all the kids were checking out our cop cars when the fire engine arrived. The kids immediately went to go see the fire engine. One of the WSP troopers laughed and said, "The fire department always has the best toys." The firefighters made a wooden prop house with fake fire in the windows so the kids could put out the fire with a real fire hose (at very low pressure).
I am not sure who had more fun, the first responders or the kids. Teachers Ms. Linnie Farbo and Ms. Chantel Nelson and all the educators and staff at the school that facilitated this have created a great tool of learning about first responders, safety and the history of our little community. It has become a highlight for the second grade students and a highlight for us first responders, as well.
At Day in the Park it was so great to interact with the kids in a positive way. It lessened kids' fear or anxiety when firefighters/EMS or "cops" had to respond to calls.