Hannah Hiatt and other youths were full of questions Thursday for Mount Airy Fire Department members Steve Everett and Matthew Fink as they stood beside the city ladder truck at Riverside Park.
“How many fires have you been on?” Hannah, 10, asked Everett at one point, a question the veteran member of the department, who is presently a fire engineer, had trouble fielding.
“I don’t know how many I’ve fought, honey, I’ve been doing it (for so long),” he told Hannah, a participant in the Surry County Summer Recreation Day Camp at Franklin Elementary School.
And the questions didn’t end there for the two city firemen who were among representatives of various agencies that took part Thursday in Safety Heroes Camp, sponsored by Safe Kids of Surry County at the park on Riverside Drive.
How many gallons of water does a fire truck hold? How long are the hoses?
“You name it,” Everett said of the list of queries received from curious youths who were attending the camp from both the Mount Airy and Surry County parks and recreation summer programs.
But the fire and other professionals manning various safety stations set up around Riverside Park didn’t mind the kids’ curiosity — which in fact seemed to be an objective of the adults in trying to engage legions of local youngsters in serious topics.
“We’re figuring 160 kids, give or take,” Myron Waddell, Surry County Safe Kids coalition coordinator, estimated as he surveyed the busy grounds of the city park, where groups of youths were rotating from station to station.
Waddell, the assistant director of the Surry County EMS, explained that a goal of Safety Heroes Camp — being held for the first time this year in Surry — was educating participants about topics that could prove beneficial in life-of-death situations.
In addition to learning about fire safety, the children toured stations designed to inform them about other areas of concern such as prescription medication dangers, water safety, bicycle safety, bullying and 911 emergencies.
• Among the tidbits offered at the latter station by Stephanie Conner, communications director for the Surry County 911 Communications Center, the kids were told how critical it is to memorize their home addresses. That way, if emergencies occur at their residences, they can tell dispatchers exactly where to send help.
• Meanwhile, under a picnic shelter at Riverside Park, another group of youths watched a video about bicycle safety, which included instructions on being properly fitted with a bike helmet and riding techniques.
• The session on bullying was led by Amanda Brooks of the Children’s Center of Surry and Yadkin. Among the tips Brooks offered were not spending time around individuals known to be bullies, and the importance of projecting confidence.
“It makes you look strong and not (weak and whiny),” one girl responded of how being confident can help deter a bully.
“What about social media?” Brooks asked the kids in reference to the cyberbullying that can occur in addition to that perpetrated in the schoolyard.
One boy in her audience was quick to cite a concern he’d noticed regarding that misuse of social media: “People cuss.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.