Plans provide escape from school

Published 1:12 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Contributing Edito

A stretcher was used to remove four students from John Small Elementary School Tuesday, not because the students were sick or injured, but because it was part of their reward for doing well in a contest.
Fifth-graders Amber Alligood and Kaleb Davis and fourth-graders Jamari Barnes and Jadakys Ruffin submitted winning entries in the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department’s 2010 Great Escape contest held during October, which is Fire Prevention Month. The stretcher rides, a visit by Sparky the fire dog, a pizza luncheon at Washington’s headquarters fire station and being elevated into the air by the department’s aerial platform were the payoffs for the winning students.
The students were asked to prepare EDITH plans. EDITH stands for “Exit Drills In The Home.” Students drew floor plans of their homes. The drawings had to show all rooms, hallways, windows, door and exits. They also had to show locations of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. The drawing also had to show an outside meeting place for family members to use in case of a fire.
Division Chief Jasper Hardison supervised the transport of the students from the school to the headquarters fire station in downtown Washington. Students were transported on a stretcher from classrooms or the cafetorium to a fire engine waiting for them outside the school. A caravan that included two fire engines, an ambulance and other vehicles made its way to the fire station.
During the pizza luncheon, attended by family members of some of the students and others, Hardison talked about the importance of a family having an escape plan and practicing exit drills from a house based on those plans.
The four students were presented with certificates to recognize their outstanding work on the project.
“Obviously, you guys did some great plans because that’s why you are here today to be recognized for that. Those things you learn as a young child will help keep you safe and your family safe,” Robbie Rose, chief of the department, told the students and others at the luncheon.
“One of the most important things when we go to a fire is to know if people are in the house or not in the house. It’s two different separate ways that we fight fires. If we’ve got people in the house, we’ve got to do a rescue. If we don’t have to worry about a rescue, we can go more into firefighting,” Hardison told the students and others during the luncheon.
Amber, one of last year’s contest winners, said the work she did last year on the project proved useful in putting together this year’s entry.
Asked if last year’s experience with the project gave her an advantage this year, she said, “Kind of.”
Kaleb, moments after the aerial platform returned him and the other three students to the ground, was all smiles.
“It was fun — very fun,” he said about taking a ride on the aerial platform of at least 60 feet, if not a bit higher.
Pizza Inn donated pizzas and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Washington donated sodas for the luncheon.