Now enrolling: Citizens’ Public Safety AcademyThe three departments responsible for public safety in River Falls invite interested residents to the first-ever Citizens’ Public Safety Academy, an 8-week course scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 20 through Nov. 8.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The three departments responsible for public safety in River Falls invite interested residents to the first-ever Citizens’ Public Safety Academy, an 8-week course scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 20 through Nov. 8.
Sessions are free. Registration is on a first-come first-served basis, with room for up to 25 participants.
The first class takes place at the public library.
Following the initial class, the police will then hold two sessions, followed by the ambulance and fire service, each at their respective stations.
A final session at the public library will summarize all the material.
Police Sgt. Janis Bock is helping coordinate the academy. She says it’s been a few years since the RFPD held its Citizen’s Police Academy.
It held about a dozen of those in the past and will review the evaluation forms participants completed back then.
From there it will be able to identify what attendees liked most and will likely repeat those activities this fall.
Bock said in the police portion of the academy, people will learn about how the police conduct an investigation and collect evidence — something she deems the “CSI effect.”
Attendees will also go to the gun range and see the various weaponry local officers use, plus a Taser demonstration and talk generally about the use of force.
“We try to make it active,” she said. “They will get a chance to fire the weapons if they want.”
Fire Chief Scott Nelson said the fire department sessions will introduce the different functions of the fire department, build goodwill and provide citizens with safe, hands-on training.
Participants will tour the fire hall, see all the equipment, hear about fire prevention, gear, communication on the trucks, breathing apparatuses, vehicle extrication, and fire education and investigation.
“Our idea is to introduce citizens to the various functions of the fire department,” said Nelson.
The sessions might include riding on a fire truck as well as an extinguisher demonstration.
Nelson said the goal is to provide citizens with a safe opportunity to see what it is like to be a firefighter. He anticipates that the classes will be about half classroom learning and half practical experience.
Ambulance Service Director Jeff Rixmann says those sessions will take place at the ambulance station and will give people insight into the service’s philosophy and operations, as well as a chance to handle some of the equipment.
He says the medical professionals will show a new technology it acquired this year that involves inducing hypothermia in patients with cardiac arrest.
Rixmann said, “We’re gonna talk about the importance of CPR and public-access defibrillation…”
He said they won’t teach CPR but will familiarize session attendees with the basics of it. Using a mannequin, participants will also learn how EMTs “intubate” a patient.
RixmaNN says the sessions will basically summarize what the ambulance service does and let people see how advanced some of that is.
He said it is really a community awareness exercise so that people can see how everything works and why they do it.
He thinks people might be surprised by how advanced the River Falls service is for its size, and they’ll gain insight about what happens inside the ambulances.
Rixmann said the service responded to 1,596 calls in 2010 and has responded already to nearly 2,000 calls this year.
Police Chief Roger Leque, Nelson and Rixmann will mainly lead the classes.
Leque said the concept springs from the city’s work plan under the goal of promoting a positive image.
He said the three department directors started talking about it, then earlier this year got City Council approval for the academy.
Bock said the spots usually fill fast and that attendees need to be at least 16 years old. She said the departments will see how it goes with the first one, then probably repeat the Citizens’ Public Safety Academy annually.
Leque said he thinks the more comprehensive academies are a good chance to open the lines of communication between public safety professionals and the community.
Judging by positive feedback given after police academies in the past, he thinks it will be a good experience.
He said, “We have some great emergency services, and this is a good chance for people to see and understand what they do.”
To sign up, call Bock at the RFPD: 715-425-0909.