LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Longview Police want people of all ages to know about emergency responders and their procedures, and they host youth camps to serve just that purpose. The Pine Tree Safety Heroes Academy for grades 2-5 gives kids an introduction.
It's not every day you see a low-flying helicopter, and seeing Christus Trinity Mother Frances Flight for Life land in a nearby parking lot is probably an even rarer occasion.
But getting to talk to emergency responders who ride in it, like RN Bryan Winchell, is a real treat for the elementary aged.
"We came out to talk to these kids about the helicopter and about safety around the helicopter, what they might see if they were ever sick or a loved one got sick so that they wouldn't be scared if they had to get in a helicopter and fly to a children's hospital." Winchell said.
In fact, they loaded up one of the kids on a gurney and several helped buckle her in. Winchell says even without this intro, most kids do react well to a helicopter flight.
"A lot of them feel that it's a pretty neat experience. They look out the window and they get taken care of by a couple clinicians and it's not as scary a thing as it really seems like," Winchell revealed.
Of course, as Longview Police Lt. Shane McCarter points out, the five-day camp is not just about a helicopter.
"They do get not only what parents have told them about, but now it gets reinforcement from not only the paramedics, but law enforcement and the fire department throughout the week," McCarter stated.
The kids were very interested in the helicopter.
"It's a great resource for the community to have who are a long ways from a pediatric ICU; so it's an hour flight or a two-and-a-half hour drive so we carry a lot of kids with us. That's kind of one of the things that's unique about our area, and so it's an important thing to be aware of and it's a great community service," Winchell added.
The kids weren't allowed to touch anything, but they could look as closely as they wanted to. They asked a lot of questions until duty called.
"They got a call right now, they've got to roll," said a police officer to the kids.
So it was cut a little short since the chopper and crew were on duty.
"Good job," Winchell commented as he unbuckled a young lady from the gurney.
And first responders hope the kids will think that's what they are doing for them in an emergency situation.
The Longview Police sponsored camp is just one of several camps put on every summer to not only familiarize kids with first responders, but also to spark interest in those who may want to consider doing it for a living someday.