By EILEEN MCCLORY
Kids in blue and green shirts could barely contain themselves as they stared at a Life Flight medical helicopter about 4 feet away from them.
They looked at the medical equipment inside, then peppered the pilot and EMTs with questions about what different parts of the helicopter do.
The kids, who are all going into kindergarten, spent the last three days learning about safety at Camp 911, a new program run by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the Findlay Police Department, the Findlay Fire Department and Hanco EMS.
The camp was held Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon at Fire Station 4, 7047 Hancock County 236, Findlay. The camp was free, though families were asked to donate $30 to continue the program next year.
About 50 kids entered the inaugural program this year, said Beth Baker, crime prevention officer at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office. Representatives from the police department, the fire department and Hanco worked with Baker this week. Several middle school and teenage volunteers helped with the kids as well, Baker said.
Brian White, crime prevention officer at the Findlay Police Department, said the camp was created as an alternative to Safety Town, a long-running private program that teaches kids about safety. The organizers of Safety Town were unable to hold the program the past two years, so the four agencies came together to organize an alternative.
“It’s something that’s needed for the community,” White said. “It’s been cool to see all the agencies have been working together, too.”
Kids learned about water safety, helmets, how to call 911, and fire safety this week, among other topics. The children also made friends and began to come out of their shells during the three days, Baker said.
“It’s nice to see the kids get comfortable,” she said.
The children met many policemen and firefighters who may later be there to help them. White said Fire Chief Josh Eberle, Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Sheriff Mike Heldman and Findlay Police Chief John Dunbar visited the kids this week, as well as most members of the Findlay Police Department and three shifts of Findlay firefighters who were on duty at the fire station this week.
The kids had fun, too.
Colin McCord, a Camp 911 attendee, said his favorite part of the week was knocking down a fake fire.
Emmalin Fisher, another attendee, said she liked looking into the helicopter. When asked what her favorite part was, she replied, “The stretcher bed!”