Camp 911 teaches seniors fire safety

Camp 911 guest Rebecca Robb takes her turn using a fire extinguisher. During the camp, all seniors learned how to put out their own kitchen fires during this fire safety presentation. (Pioneer photo/Alicia Jaimes)

BIG RAPIDS — Energetic seniors spent their Thursday morning with local first responders, the new K-9 Officer, Zeke, and learning about the importance of fire safety at the annual Retired Senior Volunteer Program’s (RSVP), Camp 911.

Seniors began the camp at 9 a.m. at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety (BRDPS), speaking with Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chad Thompson and his new K-9 Officer, Zeke.

People were in awe of Zeke and enjoyed learning about what training takes place for a K-9 officer, and what relationship is built between deputies and their canines.

Thompson appreciated the chance to come out to the camp and speak with the seniors and answer questions.

“I think it’s a very good educational opportunity to let the people in the area know what we are doing,” he said.

Senior visitor Joan Hrostowski has been to Camp 911 for the past several years because she enjoys learning about the community and sees Camp 911 as an opportunity to ask questions.

“I look forward to this,” she said. “I liked it very much.”

After the meet and greet of Zeke, seniors were split up into groups and escorted to different parts of the building where they learned fire safety, disaster preparedness, EMS and law enforcement.

“I always hope that (the seniors) come away with new knowledge to help them,” RSVP Director Linda Connell said. “Sometimes we get older and forget things, and I think this helps them remember things and watch them learn new things to keep them safe.”

Every year in Mecosta County, Camp 911 happens, and with that, Big Rapids Fire Department Capt. Sean Wethington performs a fire demonstration in hopes of teaching local seniors about the importance of fire safety.

“We see a lot of the same faces every year, but they always come with new instances or new questions,” Wethington said, noting that he enjoys interacting with the audience and seeing them grasp new ideas.

“It’s good to give them some peace of mind, and let them know, yes, they’re doing things right, or let’s try to do things different,” he said.

For those who missed it this summer, don’t fret, Camp 911 is an annual event that happens around July every year.

“Come and check it out,” Connell said. “Donuts in the morning, free lunch and you’ll get a little bit of knowledge.”

Firefighter Bethany Hamilton throws a cup of water on a kitchen fire. This demonstration was to show seniors that grease fires cannot be put out with water, and that it can actually make the fire worse. (Pioneer photo/Alicia Jaimes)

Big Rapids Fire Department Capt. Sean Wethington explains to seniors the different types of fire extinguishers they could have in their home. The purpose of the fire safety demonstration was to let the audience know how to handle kitchen fires, use extinguishers and stay safe. (Pioneer photo/Alicia Jaimes)

Seniors Benjie Gondek and Frank Gondek introduce themselves to K-9 Officer, Zeke. During this meet and greet, seniors had the opportunity to ask questions about what it takes to train a K-9 officer. (Pioneer photo/Alicia Jaimes)

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