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Low turnout, good time at EMS Day

June 02, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Turnout was low for Emergency Medical Services Awareness Day at Children's Village Sunday.

Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the multitude of other activities this month. Maybe it was the fact that most young children have already seen the fire and rescue facility off Mt. Aetna road as part of school programs.

But there were fewer rescue companies and fewer visitors than last year's event, said Brigitte Heller, who chairs the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association EMS Committee.

"I guess the rains just keep people away," she said. "It's not quite what it should be."

Those who came enjoyed the program, however, and those who did not come missed a multimedia demonstration.

A model house, normally used to demonstrate fire safety, was configured to show household hazards like cluttered stairs and electrical appliances close to the bathtub.

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Children also got a chance to practice making a 911 call with emergency dispatcher Bardona Woods.

A safety video and a photo display were also part of the program.

"It's good for the parents too," Heller said. "Sometimes, they forget they have to set the hot water so it's safe for their children."

Bonnie Merry, 10, rifled off answers to Halfway Deputy Fire Chief Doug DeHaven's questions. Merry, who has been through Children's Village before, said she would be scared, but prepared, if there was a fire.

Pointing to her 3-year-old brother, Zachary, Merry said she would get to safety and then call for help.

"He'd be the first thing I'd grab," she said.

Her mother, Leslie, said her children love the complex. She added that weather was no deterrent.

"We're coming anyway," she said.

Nancy Bell, who drives a school bus in Boonsboro, said she has made many runs to Children's Village during school field trips. The students always come back abuzz, she said.

"These kids love this," she said. "And they remember."

Hagerstown City Police Officer Gerry Kendle toured the facility with his five and four children on Sunday. He said his family did not have a fire escape plan until his daughter, Ashley, attended Children's Village programs.

"It's all her idea," he said.

The Fountaindale Elementary School second-grader said she has been to Children's Village four times.

"I've learned to always stay low when there's a fire," she said.

Manning the 911 display, Woods said children are often easier to deal with than adults.

"Children can be very calm," she said. "They don't seem to get hysterical."

Woods said adults often get frustrated when dispatchers ask questions while the ambulance is on the way. She said they sometimes think time is being wasted.

In truth, Woods said the information is relayed to paramedics who are already on their way. The information helps them treat patients, she said.

The priority dispatch system, which went into effect in 1993 in Washington County, will take effect this year statewide.

Woods served on a committee of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems to help write statewide guidelines. MIEMSS supported the program on Sunday.

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