Touch A Truck puts agency education, connection with community at forefront

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 8/3/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – For children especially, there may be a disconnect between an emergency vehicle rushing to an urgent situation and the firefighters inside.

The multi-agency “Touch A …

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Touch A Truck puts agency education, connection with community at forefront

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – For children especially, there may be a disconnect between an emergency vehicle rushing to an urgent situation and the firefighters inside.

The multi-agency “Touch A Truck” event at the Clay County Fairgrounds sought to close that distance. Hundreds of children and parents took tours through fire trucks, boats, school bus, a helicopter and dozens of other vehicles Saturday afternoon.

There was a two-hour quiet period before every light and siren went off during the “loud” period. Municipal departments from the Clay County School District, Orange Park and Green Cove Springs attended. In addition, state agencies like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Department of Transportation were vendors.

Clay County Fire Rescue Capt. Will Futch was in a truck shepherding children in and out. Public outreach is one of the best things an agency can do, he said. A person encountering law enforcement or emergency services is usually in a time of need, Futch said.

“They don’t get to see all the aspects of our jobs and our equipment,” Futch said. “We’re public servants. We’re not just here when you need us, but we’re here in the good times.”

Touch A Truck gave the department a chance to reach out to people in a situation that isn’t fraught with high emotions. People remember positive experiences with emergency officials, he said.

Futch was encouraged by the number of interactions Saturday.

“They have a more relaxed feeling. People are thankful. That’s awesome,” Futch said. “They get to see us in our normal state, I'll call it.”

The event serves as a prevention tool also, he added.

“We’re good at going out, doing things with smoke detectors and CPR, getting people trained,” Futch said.

Matt Edmonson is a deputy in the Clay County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Affairs department. The agency showed children various boats and armored SWAT team vehicles. Edmonson and his team handed out flyers and told children how things worked.

“It’s all about community engagement and letting people see us,” Edmonson said. “They can talk to us. A lot of times the only time people have to talk to police is during an emergency. This is a way for us to meet them on a nice day and just to answer any questions they have.”

David and Heather Kophamer brought their children and they surveyed the demonstrations.

“So far, it’s pretty neat. The kids are having a good time,” David Kophamer said. “They’re excited.”

Paige and Patrick Reis said they were impressed by the variety of vehicles.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to see they can ask people questions,” Paige Reis said. “They’ll see them on the road, but this is what’s in them and what they’re about.”

Darlene and Rachel Summerlyn were part of a larger family group. They applauded the event for being free and being a chance for children to socialize before the school year.

“It’s cool that they answered the kids’ questions and everything,” Rachel Summerlyn said.

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