Families meet those who keep them safe in fun-filled atmosphere

by | Oct 15, 2023

Public Safety Day 2023 makes the sights and sounds of emergency a day of play

The sights and sounds of emergency response vehicles in action rang through downtown Woodstock on Saturday, Oct. 14, but they didn’t instill fear or concern.

In fact, the wild action at the NBCC Woodstock parking lot brought smiles to the faces of dozens of children taking in the 2023 Woodstock Police Force’s annual Public Safety Day.

“Kids usually only hear these sights and sounds as they travel to an emergency,” said WPF Chief Gary Forward as he served free hot dogs to families attending the event.

He explained that Public Safety Day’s focus is to provide an opportunity for children and their families to see the equipment in a fun atmosphere and give them a chance to meet the folks who keep them safe.

“It’s a nice community event,” said the smiling chief.

Forward said he was “very grateful” to the many first responders who participated in the annual event.

The RCMP, the Woodstock, Debec and Hartland Fire Departments, Carleton Ground Search and Rescue, and Sharp’s Towing joined the WPF with personnel and equipment to present demonstrations and provide hands-on experience for the youngsters.

Sirens blared from police cruisers while young voices rang out from the car’s speakers as children happily sat in the driver’s seat.

Children and adults tried on the Woodstock Police Force’s body armour vests, with most learning quickly how heavy the tactical gear weighs.

Cst. Shaun Kimball, the force’s liaison with Special Olympics, helped little Special Olympian Floyd Atherton try on the vest as Floyd’s mother and Western Valley Special Olympics Executive Director Debbi Graham watched.

Graham described the positive impact of events such as Public Safety Day for Floyd, who has been part of the Special Olympics family for three years. Floyd became a member of the bowling team this year.

Other first responders displayed their specialized equipment. The Hartland Fire Department showcased its ladder truck, while the Woodstock Fire Department demonstrated its drones.

Fireman Curtis Weir explained that drones are a valuable asset in search and rescue operations, and their thermal cameras help identify hot spots from the air.

Sharp’s Towing displayed its massive recovery vehicle, and the life-size dummy swinging from the rescue line demonstrated its team could do more than rescue wrecked vehicles.

Carleton Ground Search and Rescue personnel showcased their trucks and equipment and answered questions from curious visitors.

Chief Forward believes the Public Safety Day met its objective to entertain the children and build a closer relationship between first responders and community residents.

Special Olympian Floyd Atherton tries on the heavy police armour vest with the help of Cst. Shawn Kimball as Floyd’s mother, Emily Atherton, watches. (Jim Dumville photo)
As Deputy Chief Mark Bennett looks on, Allison Ruff sits in the driver’s seat of a WPF cruiser. (Jim Dumville photo)
Firefighter Curtis Weir prepares a drone for flight. (Jim Dumville photo)
A dummy appears to be hanging around, but he’s actually helping Sharp’s Towing demonstrate some of its safety equipment to a pair of young visitors. (Jim Dumville photo)
Carleton County Ground Search and Rescue personnel were one of several first responders on hand for the event. (Jim Dumville photo)
Felix Wilson takes a bite of his hot dog while Heather Pemberton waits for hers as Cst. Shawn Kimball handles the barbecue. (Jim Dumville photo)
Jasmine Young takes a seat in an RCMP cruiser with the help of Cst. Martine Losier-Roy. (Jim Dumville photo)

For road conditions, click the map

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have successfully subscribed! A confirmation email has been sent to your email account. To complete your subscription, open the email and click on the confirmation link. (If you can't find it in your inbox, try your junk and spam folders.) If you'd like to receive our updates more than once a week, please click the "Manage your subscription" link at the bottom of your Newsletter.