Police and fire departments open up for public safety festival

Winters public safety agencies held a Public Safety Day that was open to the public last week.
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Photo by Rosemary Hemenway

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Last Saturday the Winters police and fire departments hosted the fourth annual Winters Public Safety Festival. Community Service Officer Gail Jimenez says that the purpose of the event was to feature the different types of responders that people might meet in the area. Jimenez says that they want people to be able to get up close and personal with the departments. At the Winters Fire Department’s booth, children got to not only meet firefighters, but to see what it might be like to become one themselves. Volunteer firefighter Justin Rominger answered questions about the kinds of equipment the firefighters carry, and even let children pick up some of the tools to see how heavy they are. Firefighter Matt Schechla built a portable water tank with a hose piping propane into the water. Schechla would light the propane on the water, creating a contained blaze that children, with the help of another firefighter, could put out with one of the department’s hoses. Children also got to peek inside of an ambulance, where paramedic and E.M.T.  Matt Brodigan explained some of the equipment and talked them through basic first aid. Brodigan says that this display wasn’t just to satisfy children’s curiosity. Brodigan hopes that by showing children the inside of the ambulance and explaining what might happen inside of it, he can alleviate some of their anxieties if they ever have to take an ambulance ride. Not only were some of the vehicles and equipment on display, visitors got to meet a few of the animals who work with public safety personnel. Jimenez quipped that this year the event was a literal dog and pony show. The dog was K-9 Kepi, a Crisis Intervention Canine. Instead of a pony, the visiting families got to see two horses, Tank and Sunny, from the Yolo County Sheriff’s Posse. Kepi was originally trained at Canine Companions for Independence, which provides assistance dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities free of charge. Her handler, Chaplain Robert Duvall, gave her extra training in detective work. He taught Kepi how to identify the scent of human stress hormones. Duvall says that because labradors have over 200 million scent receptors, they can be taught to detect practically anything that puts off a smell. Having worked in public safety for over 20 years, Duvall knew the stresses that first responders face throughout their careers. He says that they are often taught to detach themselves from the trauma that they witness, but that they still face mental health issues like depression, anxiety and PTSD. After retiring, Duvall trained Kepi to join him as the other half of a State Certified Crisis Intervention Team. Together they are the first team to be assigned to a police department in California, and the pair of them are busy. They travel throughout Yolo and Solano counties and to date have responded to over 300 incidents. Horses also have an important role in public safety. Tank and Sunny, along with their handlers Georgie Hartman and Vicky Fletcher, are members of the volunteer sheriff’s posse. They have monthly trainings, where the horses are prepared to remain calm around fireworks, smoke bombs, flares, sirens and other potentially startling stimuli. The posse is called in to provide assistance to the sheriff’s office when needed. They patrolled the fairgrounds in Woodland for the county fair, and they are trained in search and rescue techniques. Along with the teams that support first responders in their work, the festival also included a group that looks out for first responders’ families. Rod Keck, a board member of the 100 Club of Solano and Yolo Counties, hosted a booth at the festival with his wife, Margie. The first “hundred club” was founded in Detroit in 1952, in order to help the family of a slain officer. The club’s mission is to provide aid to the families of public safety officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. They provide the families with financial support and contribute to any children’s educational plans. The Solano and Yolo county club was founded in August, 2016. The first time they had to respond was for the family of CHP Officer Kirk Griess, who was killed in the line of duty in Fairfield this past August. Within a day the 100 club delivered a check to his widow. The Crisis Intervention Team, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Posse and the 100 Club are all volunteer organizations. To support Chaplain Duvall and Kepi, call 530-795-2261 ext. 146, or email robert.duvall@winterspolice.org. To become a sponser of the sheriff’s posse, email yolocosp@gmail.com. To donate to the 100 Club fund, visit www.100clubsyc.org.]]>

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