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Families Meet the Fleet

Weyauwega firefighter Andy Hruby gives Logan Kennedy a hands-on lesson in how to use a fire hose. Holly Neumann Photo

Program encourages police outreach to community

By Holly Neumann

Meet the Fleet seeks to build and maintain strong relationships between emergency personnel and the communities they serve.

The event took place Thursday, July 19, at the Manawa Rodeo grounds.

Deputy Justin Malueg, with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, helped organize the event.

“This event was started three years ago,” he said. “We wanted to do an event where kids and families could come and meet us on a more relaxed environment and see we are people too, just not out to arrest somebody.”

Malueg added that it is important for children to see that officers offer a safe place for them, both in and out of uniform.

“Hopefully, if they are faced with an emergency they are not scared when we are coming up their driveway,” he said.

There were games to play and prizes were given away. There were also police, fire and ambulance vehicles, along with tow trucks, excavators, dump trucks and more for the children and their families to explore.

“I like the police dog,” said Koi Hampter, age 6. “He was barking a lot, but he licked my hand, so I know he liked me.”

“There was a girl that was a policeman,” said Janessa Sling, 5. “There were even two of them. I wish they got pink uniforms.”

Dakota Dobberstein climbs aboard a fire truck during Meet the Fleet Thursday, July 19. Holly Neumann photo

Finn Schnobrich enjoyed seeing a truck from the Marion Fire Department.

“They are fun to be on,” said Finn. “I like all the buttons.”

Calling 911

Meet the Fleet also offered some education, such as what to do when calling 911.

“Whatever you do, don’t hang up,” said Malueg. “Stay on the line and give all your identifying information so we can take action when dispatching resources.”

People who call by accident, regardless of age, should not hang up.

“Stay on the line and let us know it was an accident,” he said. “If you hang up, we still have to send out resources.”

Car seats

Sarah Rhone, Waupaca County Public Health nurse supervisor and child passenger safety technician, was on hand to explain the importance of proper installation of car seats for children.

“Four out of five car seats are used or installed improperly,” said Rhone. “Our job as technicians is to get the car seats in correctly. The key thing is that the car seat needs to fit the child and the vehicle.”

When buying a seat, parents should consider the child’s height and weight, Rhone said. There are five different styles to choose from; infant seat, combination seat, a convertible seat and a high and low back booster.

“Always look at the manufacture directions to see what the requirements are,” she said.

For those who cannot afford a child car seat, the Waupaca County Department of Health participates in a grant program through the state Department of Transportation.

“We receive grants funds annually for those that are eligible,” Rhone said. “Those that are eligible include those on Badger Care, WIC or Free and Reduced Lunch for another child within the family. If there is a financial hardship we will find a way to get that family to get a seat as well.”

The key to this, is that a technician is then obligated to install the car seat and do an education with the families.

“We do have a fitting station at Petersen’s Auto in Waupaca,” said Rhone. “We host a fitting station the first Thursday of every month, by appointment from 2 to 6:30 p.m.”

To make an appointment, call 715-258-6323 and ask for a car seat technician.

Rhone reminded parents that car seats expire.

“Plastic tends to break down in both the hot summer and cold winters,” Rhone said. “That is why it is important to checks the expirations dates on your seats. Also, any car seat that has been in an accident, should not be used. A lot of insurance companies are now covering car seats, if you get in a motor vehicle accident.”

Audelina Sanchez, from CAP Services Family Crisis Center participated in Meet the Fleet to create awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We are letting the community know that we are here to support them in any way that they need,” said Sanchez. “It is a free and confidential service for everyone in Waupaca County that needs the support.”

The parents in attendance said they appreciated the event.

“I never knew my son still needed to be in a booster seat at his age,” said Naomi Michaels. “He is 9 and is not happy with the idea, but understands that he needs to be safe.”

Brittany Schnobrich felt that event was awesome.

“There are trucks everywhere for the kids to climb in and experience,” said Schnobrich. “I think this is wonderful. I hope that if my kids ever have an experience with them or ever need help they would not be afraid of them in uniform.”

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