America’s Safe Schools Week occurs annually during the third full week in October.
Activities conducted during that week are meant to educate people about how schools can be made safer and more secure.
Seymour-Redding Elementary School celebrated the special week by conducting its first Redding Safety Day.
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“The theme for the event was ‘Prepare, not scare,’” said Meredith Henry, the school’s social worker. “We want our students to be prepared for emergencies and not scare them about potentially dangerous situations.”
Preschool through fifth-grade students rotated through several outdoor stations, where they were presented with information from local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services workers.
“After the students moved through those stations, they went indoors so we could review tornado, fire and lockdown drills,” Henry said. “Drills were held in places that we don’t normally have them, like the school cafeteria.”
Henry, literacy coach Ashley Stahl and Assistant Principal Aaron Floyd led the indoor drills for the students.
Henry and third-grade teacher Kylene Steward are on the Redding Safety Team and attend the Indiana Safety Conference each year.
“Kylene came up with the idea for this event from a session she attended at the conference,” Henry said. “She is the one who kind of spearheaded this Safety Day, and she has done a really great job planning it.”
Henry and Steward are school safety specialists and received training in Indianapolis by the Department of Education, Steward said.
“We like the theme ‘Prepare, not scare’ and are hoping this will become an annual event,” Steward said. “It can be intimidating for a policeman or firefighter to show up at your house, so this can show students they are there to help.”
Lt. Darin Downs and Officer Dustin Steward with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department were on hand to review some safety tips with the students.
“Make sure you know your address and phone number,” Downs told the students. “Also, never pick up a gun without an adult’s permission, and never point a gun at anyone, even a toy gun.”
Downs and Steward reminded the students to never touch a needle or eat opened candy or anything that might look like candy that they might find in a baggie and never go anywhere with a stranger.
“Everything’s to do with safety today,” Downs said. “Any time we get an opportunity to read to the kids or talk to them, we do it because the youth are the future.”
Students then moved on to another station, where paramedic Joey Murphy and emergency medical technician Ray Minton, both of Jackson County Emergency Medical Services, were presenters.
“We work in 24-hour shifts, and that’s a whole day,” Murphy said. “We have four stations — two in Seymour, one in Crothersville and one in Brownstown.”
Murphy and Minton explained how they work together as a team with the Seymour police and fire departments when there is a 911 emergency.
“You all work at desks, right?” Murphy asked the students. “The back of this vehicle is like our desk, and it’s where we work. It’s an ER on wheels, and we help the patient until we can get them transported.”
Minton said they are a part of the 911 extension, but they also are a part of the community, and they want to see everyone be as healthy and happy as they can be.
One question a student asked was if two people are hurt, which one would get helped first, and Minton said it depended on the severity of their injuries.
Other questions asked by kindergartners were if the cots came in different colors and if the EMS team would help not only the student’s parents but also aunts and uncles.
The Seymour Fire Department was represented by firefighters Elijah Toborg and Matthew Stuckwisch and Sgt. Cory Acton.
“We are here to show the kids what’s in the firetruck and the different equipment we use,” Toborg said. “Mainly, we don’t want them to be scared of us when we show up to an emergency run in our gear.”
About 90 percent of the calls to the fire department are not for fires but for EMS runs, like if someone is sick or there is a medical emergency, Toborg said.
Redding Principal Steve Bush also led a reverse evacuation drill to practice the procedures that are implemented when conditions inside the building are safer than outside.
“Kylene Steward presented this idea to our safety team, and we thought it was a great idea, something our students and staff needed,” Bush said. “So we put it into place. Mrs. Steward and Mrs. Henry have done an amazing job in getting us ready for Safety Day.”
Bush said Redding Safety Day was lined up to coincide with America’s Safe Schools Week, and the elementary school participated in other safety activities all week long.
“We’ve talked about bus safety and fire safety this week,” he said. “Also, we’ve recognized Red Ribbon Week to educate students on staying drug-free and staying safe not only while they’re at school but out of school, too.”
Students in Jennifer Alberring’s third-grade class at Seymour-Redding Elementary School were asked what they liked best about Redding Safety Day and what they learned.
Here are some of their responses:
“I liked the tornado drill in the gym. We learned how to be safe and listen to the teacher at all times.” Mackenzie Pumphrey
“The policemen were really funny. They told us if a stranger asks if we want candy to say no.” Grace Mullins
“The reverse evacuation was good. We learned to follow directions.” Leo Holle
“I liked the firefighters. They said if there’s ever a fire, go outside.” Bailey Rogers
“I liked the part when the cops came. They reminded us to buckle up.” Ryan Williams
“I liked the ambulance. They told us if a car got wrecked by another one, they come to help and take the hurt people to the hospital.” Catalina Baltazar Pedro