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2017 Fire Department Open House was GREAT

Oct 16, 2017 09:37PM ● By Matt Henry Imperial Beach Dad
As a fun-loving Imperial Beach local, I always look forward to the Imperial Beach Fire Department's Annual Open House event.  In fact, I would list it as one of the DON'T MISS family-friendly, hometown events that make Imperial Beach the magical place that it is.  In case you were wondering, that list also includes: The Sun and Sea Festival, Christmas Comes to IB, the 4th of July Bike Parade, SurfDog Competition, Katy's Surf Grom Contest, Symphony By the Sea, Dempsey Holder, and The Mayor's Swim and Paddle Breakfast.  This year, as I approached the station alongside my beautiful wife with six kids in tow, we could see the gleaming trucks on IB Blvd and a giant Dalmatian mascot in turnout gear.  He waved us excitedly into the station, and our expectations were high - and not one of the eight of us left disappointed - it's just that good, and it's all FREE.

This event is great for kids, there's crafts, prize wheels, giveaways, a bounce house, snacks, candy, junior firefighter stickers and hats, and an endless world of cool trucks to marvel at; but it's just as awesome for parents and adults of all ages.  First responders have some pretty rad toys and some pretty neat stories, and getting the personal walk-around of firetrucks, police cruisers, quads and offload vehicles, jet skis, and mobile command units by those who use them to keep us safe is pretty incredible.  IB Fire, Sheriffs, Lifeguards, Coronado Fire, The US Border Patrol and US NAVY were all there with some pretty impressive gear, knowledgeable representatives, ready smiles, and even a couple live demonstrations!  That's right, think a show at Sea World right here in our community! 

First, The Sheriff's K9 Unit had a really impressive explanation of how their dogs are trained, cared for, and used to track down suspects, search structures and vehicles, and aid in suspect apprehension.  If a suspect say abandons their car and flees on foot, a k9 unit dog can catch a scent off the seat then lead officers to find suspects even over distances spanning miles.  When aiding in apprehension of a suspect, the canine's ferocious bark is usually intimidating enough for resisting suspects to give up and comply with officers.  In the few cases where the officer must release their partner, the dogs are trained to bite and hold while officers instruct the suspect to not fight the dog but give up.  The quicker they comply the less damage they sustain.  Then a deputy from the IB Sheriff's Department put on a protective "marshmallow suit", and they demonstrated a bite and hold.  When asked right after if he would have given up had he been a bad guy, he enthusiastically wheezed, "YEP!"

Secondly the IB Fire Department did a vehicle extraction saving a "trapped patient" who had clearly been involved in what appeared to be a series of serious accidents.  Haha, it might appear that way, but the Ford Crown Vic titled "The Tetanus Shot" was actually purpose built for the Del Mar Fair's Demolition Derby to benefit the San Diego burn institute earlier this year.  Not only did our local firefighter John Olson take us to second place in a tie breaking finish for the second year in a row, but if you note those sponsor stickers all over the car, our entry raised more than 10% of the $80,000 raised to help send kids to Camp Burn Beyond the Scars and do a whole bunch of good.  Our local firefighters used hydraulic rescue tools like spreaders, and cutters to remove the car away from the patient, removing both doors then the entire roof only to find the "patient's" legs to be trapped under the dashboard.  Using a ram they were able to lift the dashboard and steering column away, only to find the patient in fact had no legs and was the top half of a rescue dummy.
Doing the extraction were IB Firefighters John Olsen and Jorge Martinez.

In between demonstrations was a great opportunity to ask questions, see a real fire pole, climb inside a police cruiser (the front seat, yay!), sit atop jet skis, take selfies with uniformed personnel, and get some great education on how to better prepare yourself, family, and home for the unexpected. My kids came home explaining when, why and how to stop drop and roll, we planned 2 ways out of every room in our home and tree house, and 2 of them are nonstop, "when I'm a firefighter i'm gonna..."  

The entire event is packed with organizations committed to your health and well-being and eager to tell you what's available in our neighborhood.  You could just gloss by these and look for the ones with candy dishes, but I'm really glad I stopped!  I met someone from IB's original Volunteer Firefighter Reserve, and he showed me a black and white picture of our first firetruck, on the dirt streets of IB, surrounded by cars from the 50s and 60's.  I talked with someone from SDGE who let me know about TWO discounts I'm eligible for that I'd never even heard of (not only that they were willing to HELP me fill out the forms right there)!  The awesome people of SouthBay Urgent Care were there - did you know they accept all insurance and are open 7 days a week?!  That's a huge community asset to be aware of.

Manning the booth there for the Imperial Beach Lifeguards were Melanie Goodman and Jesus Gonzales with a nice presentation about the beach, safety and their work. Chris Brown was there with our friends from the Sheriffs and South Bay Urgent Care that does so much volunteering in the community had a booth with information and they have flu shots available besides their great urgent care.

Like all really great events in our Classic Southern California Beach City, one of the best parts was just running in to so many familiar faces.  Friends from the surf lineup, friends from the neighborhood, friends from the other DON'T MISS IB events, city officials, and a bunch of people really stoked to have found their way into such a good time on a Saturday afternoon.  We're blessed to have such a committed group of first responders, many of them home owning locals INVESTED in the community. A great big thanks to the IB Fire Department for an excellent job hosting another fantastic event.  
#staystoked everybody!  - Imperial Beach Dad
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Matt Henry


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Paul Spear, Publisher, and Editor of Dig Imperial Beach 

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