Monday, July 21


Families get close-up
fire and safety experience

Firemen, paramedics, air-evac crew and police
engage families         
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[JULY 21, 2003]  The kids' screams came out of the upper window with smoke billowing behind them. However, the children were laughing instead of showing signs of fear. What was going on?

The children had just finished a tour of the Stay Alive House and were escaping a fire. Fun? Yes, but also a very important learning experience for both children and adults.

Alexa Harbour and her sister Callie both thought that the fire safety house was cool. Callie said she learned about fire. Jorie Buckles said she had been through the safety house before and knew about fire.

The fire safety house was part of the Lincoln Jaycees' Family Safety Day. This year's event was at the Logan County Paramedic Association building on North Postville Road from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 19.

The fire safety house was only part of the day's activities. McGruff the Crime Dog arrived shortly after the kids scrambled from the fire safety house. The kids enjoyed visiting with McGruff and learning about crime and safety from the Lincoln police.

Suddenly there was a whirling sound coming from the sky. As people looked up they saw a helicopter circling overhead, preparing to land. The air-evacuation helicopter was on its way to show people the role the emergency medical service helicopter plays in Logan County safety. People watched as Ron Botz, the helicopter pilot, brought the copter in for a landing. They ran over to see the big bird. The children were all allowed to sit in the helicopter and to slide through and exit the other side.

The emergency medical air service has a three-person crew. The pilot, a flight paramedic and a lead flight nurse make up the crew. The helicopter is similar to a hospital emergency room. Feron Ice, the regional nurse manager and lead flight nurse, said that the helicopter they brought was a spare helicopter; its colors are blue and white. The regular helicopters are maroon and red. He said you must have 5,000 hours of flying in order to be a member of the crew. Ninety-eight percent of the pilots and crew members have had military flying time.

Tony Dowell, the flight paramedic, said that Illinois has five helicopter bases in Illinois. The bases are in Springfield, Effingham, Quincy, Marion and Mount Vernon. Crews at the bases cover specific regions and also go to the other regions to help each other out. The nurses and paramedics must have at least three years of training, and five is preferred. Most in Illinois have 10 years of training. The crews deal with all kinds of emergencies. Ice said he enjoyed the challenges and helping people.

Other events included seat belt safety lessons and IDs for kids.


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The Logan County Paramedics gave a tour of their new headquarters. In November of 2002 they moved from the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital to the building they now occupy. Steve Siltman, CEO of the Logan County Paramedic Association, spoke highly of their new headquarters. The building, the former site of Glenn Pontiac, was completely renovated to fit their needs. It has space for all of their ambulances. The association also has its secretarial and management offices on the premises, and the upstairs is home to the paramedics who are on duty.

The Logan County Paramedic Association has 14 full-time paramedics and 12 part-time paramedics. They work four to a shift in 24-hour shifts with 48 hours off. When the paramedics are on duty but not on call, they stay in the upstairs of the new headquarters.

Siltman says that they have around 3,400 calls per year, an average of eight calls per shift. The paramedics are connected to the Logan County Safety Complex and go out on all calls that come in there.

The families that attended the Jaycees' annual safety day got a good look at all of the features that Logan County provides for the safety of the county's residents. The people there were receiving a full serving of safety in two hours, and from the looks on the faces of the kids and adults the day was a success. People left knowing that Logan County offered an array of safety services. They also left knowing more about what to do in case of an emergency.

Anita Gray, former vice president of the local Jaycee chapter, organized and helped pull this event together. The Lincoln Jaycees are the local affiliate of the Illinois Jaycees. The local chapter currently has 55 members. They consist of young adults from 21 up to 39 years of age who come together to do service for the community and to present events that are fun, educational and supportive.

Other events that the Lincoln Jaycees are involved in are the annual Easter egg hunt, Christmas Angel Tree and the Halloween haunted house. The Jayceees also have events at the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival and do training on how to be a better person. Mike Rutledge, the 2003 president of the Lincoln Jaycees, said that they try to get their members to all be active and to volunteer to organize events like Family Safety Day.

The Lincoln Jaycees and everyone involved in the safety event provided a day of education and fun for those who came.

[Don Todd]    

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