POINT PLEASANT — Children and adults with special needs will take center stage at the Mason County 911 Center, when the EMS hosts “A Special Day for Extraordinary People.”
The public event will be held Saturday, April 27, from 1 to 4 p.m., when activities will be held for those with special needs in the community, along with their caregivers. On April 25 and 26, special education students from all county schools will attend one of four sessions, geared especially for them.
While various agencies hold events throughout the year, this program will bring all emergency entities together in one place for a low-sensory learning environment, according to Elisabeth Lloyd, EMS community involvement coordinator. The fire department, EMS, and police will all participate.
The 911 center training room will be transformed for comfort with soft beanbag chairs and activity rugs. It will be there that the special guests will gather.
Lloyd said a fireman will slowly dress in full gear so that every step can be viewed. A deputy with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department will have a K-9 officer with him, to allow the special needs community to become familiar with the dog and to not be afraid.
An ambulance and fire truck will be on scene, minus all flashing lights and sirens. The children and adults will be invited to explore, or simply sit, for as long as they wish. Those attending will also get to make practice calls to 911 and tour the telecommunications room.
Lloyd added Shane Leonard of Solid Rock Studios will be on hand to capture the event in photos. A photo booth will also be available for people to take their own pictures.
The overall goal for the program, according to Dennis Zimmerman, director of the Mason County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is simply for those attending to have fun.
The local EMS has been working hard to reach out to the residents of Mason County, making their presence known and driving home the fact that they are your neighbor, fellow church member, and 4-H or Scout leader. Members have been hosting both children and adult CPR classes, teaching “Stop the Bleed” classes to county school personnel, and participating in the “Handle With Care” program.
The EMS recently initiated the first “kids only” CPR classes, along with classes for adults. Zimmerman said it is a goal to train many people in this lifesaving technique free of charge. He said with the county having several outlying areas, some people are far from immediate help.
The director said ICL Industrial Products in Gallipolis Ferry recently donated two complete CPR kits that will help with the free training. Lloyd and fellow EMT Hannah Parsons recently spent two days at the Mason County Outdoor Youth Expo at the National Guard Armory, where they taught students in grades four through six “hands only” CPR.
The “Stop the Bleed” program has been taught to school personnel at Wahama and Hannan high schools, with elementary employees traveling there to be included. Plans are in the works to hold the class at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High, as well.
The “Handle With Care” program is a cooperative effort by all emergency services to let school officials know when a child has faced a traumatic event. The teacher then knows to handle the child with extra care, be it a fire, parent who was arrested, family member dying, or other tragedy. Lloyd serves as the county coordinator for this program, as well as being on the state committee.
Resource bags have also been distributed by EMS, helping people with “wounds you don’t see,” according to Lloyd. Drug addiction, domestic violence, and mental health resources available locally are all included.
“We have a lot of talent in this agency,” said Zimmerman, “and this is just the beginning.”
He said there are plans for a lot of stuff moving forward, and the best way to learn about activities is to like and follow the “Mason County EMS” Facebook page.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.