(Bridgeport, CT – June 25, 2013) – James Gilliard, 12, and Edgardo Gadea, 13, put on their toughest faces as they posed with a ballistic SWAT shield and a battering ram but they were all smiles after the photo op ended.
On Tuesday, a few hundred youths spent the morning and afternoon checking out the tools and equipment first responders and emergency responders use to do their job.
The young men and women got to check out the inside of the mobile command center, hang out in the armored Bearcat SWAT vehicle, watch firefighters carve up a car using the “jaws of life” during an exercise in vehicle extrication, and strap themselves into ‘The Convincer,’ a state police contraption that simulates a low-speed motor vehicle accident – a jarring reminder to use seatbelts.
“That was just 5 mph,” a State Trooper explained to a group of about a dozen students. “Imagine 50 or 60 miles per hour.”
The career day was sponsored by the Bridgeport Junior Emergency Responders, a public school-based extracurricular group. Members spent the school year learning about public safety and emergency response. On Tuesday, they got to see it in action firsthand.
The event was organized by the Bridgeport Police Department, the department’s School Resource Officers and school security guards.
“What was so great about this event is it was hands-on,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “This wasn’t a group of people standing in front of a room describing their professions. The kids got to see and touch the tools that emergency responders use to do their jobs and see demonstrations of what they do.”
The State Police bomb robot was a hit with the crowd. The department’s Mounted Unit showed off its horses. The Fire Department impressed with its demonstrations for the children. Kids were able to sit on the Police Department’s four-wheel quads that are used to patrol Seaside Park.
Next year, the city will open the Bridgeport Military Academy, a new high school geared toward students with an interest in public safety and emergency response.
Among the agencies that participated were the Bridgeport Police and Fire Departments, the Connecticut State Police, the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and American Medical Response.