School and police collaborate for helicopter visit

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP. Young students were able to get a first-hand look at a helicopter as part of a schools and law enforcement collaboration that enables the children to learn about safety, and make friendships before the start of school.

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  • Atlantic Health’s Atlantic Air Three air ambulance lands on the field behind the Long Pond School in Andover Township on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 as part of the Safety Town program for the district’s incoming kindergartners. (Photos by Mandy Coriston)

  • The flight crew of Atlantic Air Three and members of the Andover Township Police Department talk to Safety Town participants on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at the Long Pond School. (L-R) Helicopter pilot Capt. Ryan Barrett, ATPD Chief of Police Eric Danielson, APTD Ptl. Matt Puccio, flight paramedic Jane Noonan, ATPD Det. Ed Diklich, and flight nurse Jim McGrath.

  • Students rest in the shade under the tail boom of Atlantic Air Three during a visit from the air ambulance to Safety Town, while taking turns looking into the helicopter on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

  • Students participating in Andover Regional School District/ATPD’s Safety Town program gather in front of Atlantic Air Three on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, during a visit from the air ambulance to the Long Pond School.

  • Students wait for dismissal from Safety Town, a two week program run by the ATPD and the Andover Regional School District to teach incoming kindergartners about bike and outdoor safety, community helpers, and what to expect when they get to school in September. The children are sitting amongst the ‘safety village’ set up to teach them about responsible bike riding and road etiquette.

By Mandy Coriston

Incoming kindergartners in the Andover School District have spent the last two weeks at “Safety Town,” learning about community helpers, bike and outdoor safety, and what to expect when they get to school in September. On Tuesday morning, July 16, they had a visit from Atlantic Health when Atlantic Air Three, blades kicking up the grass, landed on the field behind the Long Pond School much to the delight of the students and their instructors from the Andover Township Police Department (ATPD).

The flight crew, Captain Ryan Barrett, paramedic Jane Noonan, and flight nurse Jim McGrath, told the children about the helicopter's function as an air ambulance, and some of the places they get to travel to help people who are sick or seriously injured.

“It’s just like a regular ambulance,” Noonan said, “but we can get to the hospital really fast.”

The children were able to explore the helicopter, sitting in the jump seats and peering through the cabin spaces and calling it "really cool."

The Safety Town program has been run as partnership between the Andover Township Police Department and the Andover Schools for more than 20 years, and this year, needed to be moved from the Florence M. Burd Elementary School over the Long Pond due to ongoing maintenance at FMB. Detective Ed Diklich is running the 2019 program, which is being attended by nearly two dozen incoming students.

“We’ve been doing this so long, and we really wanted to keep it alive,” ATPD Chief Eric Danielson said, “Det. Diklich really took the bull by the horns to get us moved over to Long Pond and make sure we had faculty support to get this done.”

Megan Garman, a 5th-grade special ed teacher in the district who helps oversee the students, says the program is a wonderful learning opportunity.

“These kids get taught about a lot of facets of safety, from riding their bikes properly to animal safety and how emergency services work," Garman said. "It’s also great that they get to see so many different presenters. And it’s good for them to start meeting their classmates and forming friendships before school begins.”

Safety Town was held the weeks of July 8 and July 15, and is concluded with a graduation ceremony for the participants.

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