Ask Michael Crowley— the Community Field Coordinator at the Richard J. Murphy Elementary School in Neponset— about last Friday’s second annual First Responder’s Appreciation Day and he’ll be happy to tell you all about it.
First, though, he’ll have to get a playground packed with rambunctious grammar school kids to simmer down for a minute or two.
“I have 125 kids that I need to get quiet. Want to know how I do that?” Crowley asked the Reporter. Then, he boomed over the roar of the students: “Show me if you want to go to recess or not!”
The cacophony of voices quickly fell silent.
“Mention the risk of losing recess, and they’ll do anything,” laughed Crowley, who then explained the concept of last week’s block party, which was staged on Worrell Street from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The school welcomed a wide array of first responders— including firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. The students— in grades K-5 had the opportunity to meet, greet, and learn what these men and women do daily to keep the city safe.
In addition to meeting the first responders, the children have the opportunity to tour fire trucks and police cars, discover the apparatus used by EMTs and participate in the fingerprinting process with police officers. The Murphy School started First Responders Appreciation Day because many of the children that attend the school have family that work as first responders, said Crowley. It is also a way for the kids to introduce their family members to their friends and other members of the faculty and staff.
The students showed their appreciation and gratitude by making posters, writing thank you letters, dressing up as first responder superheroes with BPD badges or other firefighter emblems, and finally, saying hello and thank yous over the loudspeaker at school.
Officer Cornell Patterson of the BPD’s K-9 Unit led a demonstration with the help of his colleague, Steve Doran on the K-9 Unit’s police dogs and the technology they use to instruct and command their dogs to follow directions. His German Shephard, Loki, became the star of the show as he executed commands, racing from one end of the schoolyard to the other as Patterson led the way using a green laser pointer. In addition, the kids got an up close and personal view of the tablet officers use to view what the camera placed on Loki’s K-9 harness captures along his route.
The Boston Police Special Operation’s SWAT vehicle was a popular destination as students lined up to enter the armored car. Frances Deary of the BPD Special Operations team offered tours as she explained that some of the technology, such as a de-bombing robot, is a little out of date.
“The new ones are even smaller now,” she explained.
“Kids are always afraid of the police or firemen when they show up because they don’t understand the procedures and become very fearful of them,” said Crowley. “We are showing them the human behind the badge. This day is an opportunity to explain to the kids not to run away from police officers, why a firefighter might kick in their door, or why people get taken away in an ambulance.”