VIENNA – Hundreds of children and their families learned how to remain safe with the help of many fire and law enforcement departments, Memorial Health System and the Grand Central Mall on Saturday during the 2014 Safety Day event.
This was the third year for the mall to hold a mall-wide safety event, but the first time the program expanded beyond fires, said Katrina Stephens, marketing director for the mall.
“The core of this year’s event is still fire prevention, but because the first and second years went so well, we chose to expand it to all safety,” she said.
While the first two events included a number of area fire departments, this year’s Safety Day was expanded to include a variety of other organizations that included law enforcement agencies and a hospital system.
“We know fire prevention is important and still want to get that out to kids, but also feel it is just as important for them to know other ways to be safe,” Stephens said. “At Grand Central Mall, we feel it is important to get out in the community and educate everyone on various aspects of safety, awareness and prevention.”
Those other aspects of safety included a variety of information, activities and displays such as photos with Smokey the Bear and Sparky Dog, fire truck and helicopter tours, Kid Print ID Program, a police K9 unit, a fire extinguisher simulator, driver safety, “drunk goggles,” car seat safety checks and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety.
“This event is a great thing,” said Laura Anderson, of Vienna, who attended Saturday’s Safety Day with her grandson, 6-year-old Tyler Morris. “By having the fire engines and helicopter with the firefighters and police officers available to talk to the kids, it teaches the children to not be afraid of people in uniform and to know who they can go to if they need help.”
For the first time, the mall partnered with Memorial Health System to present the event. The organization, which owns Marietta Memorial Hospital, conducted a blood drive during the free event while the Vienna Police Department collected unwanted and expired medications as part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Take Back Initiative.
“I am thrilled with the level of support we have received from the participating organizations,” Stephens said. “They’ve been vital in the planning stages, and without their support, we would not be able to hold an event of this magnitude.”
Organizations who participated included fire departments and volunteer fire departments from Vienna, Parkersburg, Marietta, Mineral Wells and Warren Township, along with Vienna and Parkersburg police departments, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, MedFlight of Ohio and the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
“These are the real experts who work in our communities every day, purely out of passion for what they do and who they help,” said Stephens. “They sacrifice a lot for us and do their absolute best to educate our communities and our goal is to give them the platform they need to spread that information even further.”