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Thursday, October 15, 2009

For the third year in a row, Emergency Dispatchers from the Amherst Public Safety Communications Center are working in partnership with the Amherst Fire Department and taking part in AFD's SAFE Program. Together they are helping to teach some of Amherst’s youngest citizens about dialing 911.

The SAFE (Student Awareness of Fire Education) Program has been in place since 1996, with firefighters from the Amherst Fire Department teaching lessons about fire safety and prevention to the 4th graders at Fort River, Crocker Farm, Marks Meadow, and Wildwood Elementary schools as well as at the Shutesbury, Leverett, and Pelham Elementary schools.

The month-long SAFE Program culminates with the 911 lesson, which includes information for students about how to appropriately use 911 including what to say if they do have to report an emergency, and each student will have an opportunity to practice dialing 911 using a special phone prop which allows the Dispatchers and the students to simulate a 911 call so they can apply what they’ve learned.

Working with the SAFE Program is just part of the 911 Education Program that was founded in 2007 by Dispatchers Jason Rushford and Carly Kinnas. The program was designed to educate citizens of all ages about the proper use of 911, and Rushford and Kinnas have presented at other community events as well including the Amherst Fire Department’s Open House, the flu-clinic at the Bangs Community Center, and for seniors with the Amherst SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) Program.

If you would like more information about the SAFE Program or the 911 Education Program, contact Carly Kinnas at kinnasc@amherstma.gov or Jason Rushford at rushfordj@amherstma.gov or at the Communications Center at 413-259-3000. This program is funded by a Community Policing Grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

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