Students rewarded for escape plans

Published 1:04 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A ride on an EMS stretcher, a ride in a fire engine, a pizza lunch and about two hours away from school were among the rewards Monday for four John Small Elementary School students chosen as winners in a Great Escape contest.

Kenny Carawan, Kathryn Jones, Gustavo Martinez and Gray Perry were winners of the EDITH contest sponsored by the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department and conducted last month during National Fire Prevention Month. The four students also were treated to a visit by Sparky, the firedog, and being elevated into the air by the department’s aerial platform.

Gustavo Martinez waves to his classmates as (from left) Sparky and firefighters Otis Harrell and Brad Johnston make sure he is secure on a stretcher that took him to a waiting fire engine outside John Small Elementary School. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

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 had to show locations of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. The drawings 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 a fire engine, an ambulance and other vehicles made its way to the department’s headquarters 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.

“It was fun,” said fifth-grader Kathryn Jones about being elevated in the aerial platform. “You could see a bunch of stuff, stuff like a bunch of buildings.”

Kathryn said she spent about an hour working on her plan.

Fourth-grader Gray Perry said she also spent about an hour working on her plan, her first-ever EDITH drawing.

“I don’t know,” she replied when asked what was the best part of her experience in the aerial platform.

Fifth-grader Gustavo Martinez was quick to respond with this one-word answer when asked about his aerial-platform experience: “Cool.”

“Looking at the roofs,” he said when describing the best part of that experience.

“No … sir,” he replied when asked if he could have handled the aerial platform extending higher than it did.

He also spent about an hour on his plan.

Gustavo said EDITH plans are important because they help families prepare for safe, orderly exits from their homes in case of a fire or similar emergency.

“I put a lot work into it. It took me two hours,” said Kenny Carawan about developing his plan.

“I was excited,” he said about learning he was among the contest winners.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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