Commitment to keeping Crawford County safe
Tue, 04/04/2023 - 1:12pm caleb
Frederic Fire & EMS offers Infant Safe Sleep Program, fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, other safety resources
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
An effort by local first responders to keep babies safe has grown into a larger home safety program and helped to garner recognition for the department.
Ed Goscicki, Frederic Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief, said the department started the Infant Safe Sleep Program in 2017 and “currently that’s our biggest push.”
Through the program, currently, Captain Brandi Ginnever and XO Christin Turner of Frederic Fire & EMS bring Pack ‘N Plays (portable cribs) to homes and offer parents and guardians education for safe infant sleep. Department officials said one of the most common mistakes for safe infant sleep is babies being in the same bed as a parent or other another child. Turner said blankets can be a suffocation hazard, and the department tries to teach ABC for safe baby sleep: Alone, on Back, in Crib (or in Pack ‘N Play).
“It takes a village to raise a kid,” Turner said.
As of last week, the department had given out 78 Pack ‘N Plays through the program. Turner said the Pack ‘N Plays are portable, “so no matter where they go they have a safe place to sleep.”
On Friday, March 10, during the 2022 Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala held at Kirtland Community College, Frederic Fire & EMS received the Kirk Wakefield Service Person of the Year Award. The award “was inspired by the 2018 recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award, the late Kirk Wakefield” and “may be given to someone whose contributions and/or commitment of service as military or first responders has made a positive impact on the Grayling/Crawford County community over the past year. This award recognizes those who continue to put their lives on the line for the safety of others in our community/country,” according to the chamber.
“Each member of the Frederic Fire & EMS team is committed to keeping Crawford County safe and providing the best possible service when called upon. Their safe baby program has been a great success. They are present for most of the sporting and community events that take place throughout the county, as well as being involved with the schools teaching children about fire safety. Their commitment to keeping Crawford County safe is topnotch,” according to the award nomination information.
Goscicki and Turner accepted the award during the gala on behalf of the department. They said they were surprised to hear that voters had selected the department to receive the award out of the eight nominees.
“That was shocking. I was speechless. I still find it hard to describe and put into words,” Turner said.
Goscicki said the department is trying to increase its “outreach” and has expanded the baby safety program into a larger endeavor that includes offering smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to families.
“It’s become a whole family thing,” Goscicki said.
Goscicki said the department also offers tips on home fire safety, including having a meeting place and escape plan from the house in the event of a fire. The department also offers address signs for homes to make them more easily located by first responders, and it performs free Firewise inspections, which offer recommendations to make home exteriors and yards safer from possible wildfires.
Goscicki said the department is trying to spread the word about its safety offerings “through word of mouth and through Facebook” and the Infant Safe Sleep Program has become a major endeavor for department personnel.
“This is something we actively work on every single day,” Goscicki said. “We’re not just a fire department. We’re all about preparedness and making sure our county is taken care of.”
And they want to do more, department members said.
Turner said she’s been in contact with the Crawford County Library to offer large scale safety education events for families.
Department officials said Captain Dana Swander has been teaching CPR classes in the community, and Chief Doug Pratt has been working with the school system and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department in an effort to increase safety for students and staff.
“Education – that’s the first step in emergency preparedness,” Goscicki said.
“Education” also applies to the department; personnel have to go through regular training.
Captain Allen Ballard recently completed “a two-year journey” to earn paramedic status. He said the Futures For Frontliners program and scholarships helped him through the process financially, and support from his colleagues meant a lot during the tough times.
“The thing that got me through this was support from co-workers, staff, the township board,” Ballard said. “I want to encourage others to do it. You can do this. I’m in my 50s. People in the class were 20, 30 years younger. We all completed the same course. I couldn’t have done this without support and encouragement. They kept encouraging me to continue on.”
Ballard said paramedics can treat “more critically injured patients.”
“We can do the highest level of care available to us in the field,” Ballard said. “I think the best thing I learned in my college is learning to read an EKG. It’s almost a second language.”
Ballard said he wants to “go back to college to be an instructor teaching basic and advanced EMT, paying it forward.”
Goscicki said constant training is essential. One of the main duties of the department is responding to car crashes, and Goscicki said with I-75 being in such close proximity to the community, personnel have to be ready for a wide variety of materials, vehicles, and outcomes.
“We have to be prepared to respond to that changing demographic,” Goscicki said. “Our training reflects that.”
Frederic Fire & EMS members said they enjoy helping with school sports by being present at Grayling High School games. Goscicki said the department does not always have an ambulance at sporting events, but it does try to have personnel present.
“That’s one of my favorite things to do, hang out with the kids and watch the game. That’s one of the best parts of this job,” Turner said.
“We want to be there and support them,” Goscicki said.
Department members said they also enjoy being involved in local parades and AuSable River Festival events.
Turner said the department has a “friendly rivalry” with MMR in the Business Relays canoe race held during the festival.
“They look forward to it just as much as we do,” Turner said.
“It makes for good fellowship between our two agencies,” Goscicki said.
To receive assistance through the Infant Safe Sleep Program, contact the Frederic Fire Department at 989.348.8190 ext. 1003 or send a message via Facebook to @FredericFD.