Lessons in safety

Twenty-two young Fort Dodge citizens graduated from Fort Dodge Safety Camp Friday.

The five-day program held at Duncombe Elementary concluded with a final class and ceremony. Steve Hergenreter, a Fort Dodge Fire Department captain, handed to each of the first- and second-graders in the camp a certificate. The campers also received a free bicycle helmet courtesy of a grant from Iowa Love Our Kids.

“They’ve been in safety camp all week,” Hergenreter said. “We started Monday.”

The camp began with a class on fire safety. Tuesday, stranger danger and internet safety. Wednesday, bicycle safety and bicycle rodeo. Thursday, EMS and poison safety. And Friday, how to call 911 and railroad safety.

Kent Hulett, FDFD fire chief, said the Safety Camp was “fantastic.”

“It’s very important we get the young people involved and knowing about fire safety and the DARE program and bicycle safety,” Hulett said. “The kids have been out here every day this week and hopefully they had fun and learned something about safety.”

This is the camp’s second year, and according to Hergenreter will be an annual event.

“We’ll probably do this the second week of June every year,” he said. “It’s just been an awesome experience. So many people from the public have helped us. A lot of people came together to help put this together.”

Participating in the Safety Camp were the FDFD, the Fort Dodge Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, Webster County 911, Iowa Poison Control and Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

The camp is intended to instruct children on how to be safe.

“We hit all the topics for this age group. They’re first- and second-graders,” Hergenreter said. “They’re all big topics to help keep them safe, now and as they grow through childhood to adults.”

These topics and safety, Hergenreter said, are important.

“We want to prevent injuries from the pediatric group all the way until they’re adults,” he said.

The kids in the camp, according to Hergenreter, were enthusiastic and responsive during the week.

“Over the last two years I’ve been surprised by how much they know about the Internet and how much they’re on the Internet and around railroad tracks. They’re a lot more street smart than I assumed and it just reinforces how much they need this education to keep them safe.”

In addition to being informative, Hergenreter also described the camp as fun.

“They have lots of fun. They get to crawl in the fire trucks and crawl in the ambulances,” he said. “Then we had Sparky, the Fire Department mascot, playing with them. And every day they did a craft that was related to the day’s topic. They also do fun things through the day.”

Hergenreter said he was proud to see the 22 children graduate from Safety Camp.

“We had 22 children that learned about law enforcement, the fire service and they learned how to be safe,” he said. “And, on top of that, they had fun.”