The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Emergency Staff Peddle Services

Emergency services personnel flocked to a local park Wednesday, but it was hardly a state of emergency.

As part of National Fire Prevention Week, the Chapel Hill Fire Department hosted Life Safety Day at the Chapel Hill Community Center.

Assistant Fire Marshal Rodney Watson organized the event, the first ever in Chapel Hill.

He said he hopes to host Life Safety Day annually.

"We want to make the public aware of the emergency services out there," said Watson.

"It goes way beyond the fire department."

People representing various careers in emergency services, including firefighting, came out to educate the public about their jobs and have a little fun in the process.

Stormy, the Carolina Hurricanes' mascot, walked around the park giving hugs and waved from high in the air on the fire truck ladder.

Parents watched as their children aimed a fire hose at a mock window, pretending to put out a fire.

"Look at the water go through the window!" said 5-year-old Stacy Williams of Carrboro. "This is fun!"

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics were on hand to take children into the ambulance and answer questions about emergency medical situations.

Paramedic Scott Wilder said he wanted to let people know about his job. He said he doesn't want people to be afraid of calling 911.

"Most emergencies involving college students involve alcohol," Wilder said.

"They don't even remember their ride in the ambulance."

Staff Sgt. Steve Byrnes drove up from Fort Bragg to represent the U.S. Army, bringing an assortment of weapons ranging from a homemade bomb to guided and projectile missiles.

"The Army is fairly hidden from the public eye, especially during times of peace," Byrnes said. "But we work hard every day, responding to bomb threat calls, finding explosives and doing training exercises."

Brandon Chase of Chapel Hill visited the Army exhibit, looking up at Byrnes, who towered over the 7-year-old.

"Do you shoot these things off planes?" he asked. "I want to be a pilot when I grow up."

Manager of Chapel Hill Community Center Lisa Baaske said she was happy the community center could provide its park for such a noble cause.

"Life Safety Day was at first going to be in our gym," Baaske said. "Everyone's happy that the lovely weather let us spend the afternoon outside.

"The only problem is that none of the children in our swimming lessons classes want to go inside and swim."

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