By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
Members of Gainesville Fire and Rescue have spent this Fire Prevention Week teaching Cooke County kids about the importance of safety in many situations in a skit based on the movie “Despicable Me.”
During the skit presentation at the North Central Texas College (NCTC) Wednesday, elementary students from Era, Valley View and Muenster were enthralled as the local firefighters staged a presentation including Sparky the Dalmatian mascot and the minions from “Despicable Me.”
The fire fighting actors are traveling across the county this week teaching all elementary kids about fire safety and other dangers. Every Cooke County elementary school will be able to attend the presentation.
During the skit, the students hear and see first hand what to do in case of different emergencies, dangers or how bad conduct can affect the lives of others.
The kids first learned that in an emergency they should call 911 and give the dispatcher answering the phone their name, location and nature of the emergency.
The kids learn that bullying is unacceptable and if they experience or see this type of harassment, they should stop or separate those involved, notify a teacher and subsequently learn how to play nice and get along with fellow students and friends.
In this world of computers and social media, kids were warned use caution when communicating with strangers.
When smoke appears coming into an area, the students are told to stay calm. If they are in a room behind a closed door and smoke is coming under the door, it is important to touch the door first before opening it make sure it is not hot. If it is not hot and this is the only way out then they should open it, keep low to the ground and head for the nearest escape. Keeping low is important because the air is clearer close to the floor.
Students were taught that families should have an emergency plan or “exit drills in the home” known as E.D.I.T.H. When the fire alarm sounds, each member of the family knows what to do and should have a designated place outside the home to meet up with all family members.
According to Sparky the fire dog’s web-page, “Eighty percent of fire deaths happen in the home.”
If clothing catches on fire, the students are told to drop and roll until the fire is smothered out.
Participants with the Gainesville Fire Rescue who have been working hard on the skit since July include: Alan Bryan as Dr. Gru; Chase Graves. David Heller and Randy Prestage as minions; Cameron Fisher and Kenny Blakey as firefighters; Brad Thompson as the puppet Captain Frank, Jake Chambers as Sparky; Kelly Vaughn and Shawn Sutton as sound engineers; Tony Dresser handled video; Jeffrey Stevens, Matt Edinton and Shannon Jeffcoat handled props.
During part of the presentation teachers from the different schools present today also participated on stage with the cast to the delight of their students.
The teachers were Mrs. Pagel and Mrs. Budish from Muenster Elementary, Mrs. Drake from Era Elementary and Mrs. Klement and Mrs. Glascock from Valley View Elementary
Wayne Twiner, Gainesville division chief of training and public education said that Fire Prevention Week has been a national observance since 1925. Then president Calvin Coolidge declared this week a national observance honoring the Great Chicago Fire and those who lost their lives and homes.
“Today, fire departments across the country continue to remember this tragic event and promote fire prevention practices throughout Fire Prevention Week,” Twiner said. “ Gainesville Fire and Rescue introduced the “Flameout Clown Troop in October 2000. The clowns helped to delivery very important safety messages to the children of local schools.”
Each year since 2000 the program has evolved.
“This year we had to learn the new skit regarding the animation movie “Despicable Me,” Twiner continued. “Besides learning the skit and building props and costumes, our members put their best efforts forward trying to prevent accidents through education.”
“We would also like to thank North Central Texas College Performing Arts Center and Technical Director Dan Doss for providing us the opportunity to use their facility.”