COLUMBIANA - Special needs individuals of all ages and their families got up close and personal with the city's safety service forces Saturday at a safety day and health fair at Firestone Park.
Aimed at strengthening bonds between the city's safety service personnel and the community's special needs individuals and their families, Heroes and Halos Safety Day provided community members an opportunity to familiarize themselves with members of the police, fire and EMS departments and the equipment they use during emergencies, according to event coordinator Kelli Harding, herself an EMS member.
"A lot of times individuals with special needs are afraid of [safety service personnel]," she said. "We wanted to do something fun, grow the trust. This event helps them to be more comfortable around us and also helps us to know who they are, so that when we respond to an emergency we know who we are dealing with. The two groups don't really come in contact a lot, so [the event] is good on both ends."
The Heroes and Halos Safety Day 2012 brought together Columbiana safety service personnel and special needs individuals and their families in the community Saturday at Firestone Park. In the above photo, visitors get a look at a Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter. For additional photos visit cu.salemnews.net. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)
Harding said the event was not restricted to any age group or any disability or handicap.
In addition to the safety service demonstrations, the event included an interactive health fair featuring 26 agencies from Columbiana and Mahoning counties offering information to caregivers about services available for their loved ones with special needs. Each agency provided an interactive game for visitors that helped re-enforce their mission. There was also Air Evac and STAT MedEvac helicopter landings, fishing derby sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 18, kids Identi-Kits by the police department and a free food tent with all donated food.
Harding, who also works with special needs individuals through her Guardian Angels ministry, said the event is important because it helps safety service personnel provide better care.
"It's really important that safety services and families are comfortable around each other," she said. "We can find out what needs are out there and get training for it so that they get better care during emergencies."