By Jennifer Maggiore
Red Balloon Social Media
Safe Communities Day was a hit with Class 32 – not just because it was an action-packed day with our community heroes, but because we got hands-on experience with the skill, patience, and decisive thinking required to do the job of our police and fire professionals.
Upon arriving at the Police & Fire Training Facility, we were greeted by Jim Ford, Deputy Chief, Scottsdale Fire Department (Class 8) and Mark Walther, Lieutenant, Scottsdale Police Department Training Unit, who told us a bit more about their jobs and what to expect for the day.
We were split into groups and given the opportunity to test out the MILO Firearms Simulator, which put us into scenarios that mimicked the life and death situations police find themselves in daily. Our group learned a lot about the training that goes into deescalating conflict and using the least amount of force necessary to neutralize a threat.
Next, we got to see the police dogs, Hannah and Scout, in action – do you know what kind of breed is used by Scottsdale Police? Most people think of German Shepherds, but these strong and beautiful dogs are actually the high drive Belgian Malinois, which are bred in Holland specifically to do this job.
Last, we got to meet members of Scottsdale’s SWAT team – we learned more about their equipment, toured the “Bear” (the huge armored vehicle), and heard more about how they collaborate with regional and federal departments to lend their expertise and talent where needed.
After lunch, we got to spend time outside with the Fire Department, which included suiting up in boots, pants (with iconic suspenders), jacket, hood, hat, mask, and even had the heavy tanks strapped to our backs before entering a dark, smoky room with no visibility to save a baby (ok, babydoll) with thermal cameras.
We learned about Automatic Aid, a reciprocal program that allows Phoenix and Scottsdale firefighters to render aid depending on who is closest regardless of the address. The faster the response, the better the outcome.
We got to try the hoses, which blasted 120 gallons of water per minute – they create so much force that we needed partners to keep us steady. Pretty amazing considering they have hoses that can flow more than 700 gallons per minute!
For those of us who could handle the heights, we also went up the ladder truck, which took us 10 stories high to 100+ feet!) for a beautiful view of the valley, and to see for ourselves what it’s like when firefighters have to scale multi-story buildings to rescue people or cut holes in roofs.
However difficult we thought police and firefighter jobs were before we arrived that morning, we walked away with a new appreciation and sense of pride for the services they provide to our city.