Public Safety Awareness Day ‘Wows’ Spectators

By Corporal Brian Schnell….
Seldom does one say they “Enjoyed” a learning experience. Seldom but, not never. On Saturday, August 20, 2011 the City of Sunny Isles Beach hosted our first Public Safety Awareness Day, and all in attendance can say they certainly enjoyed a learning experience. Ms. Sandra Block, a Crime Prevention Specialist, with the department organized what became an outstanding and extremely successful event. Ms. Block included representatives from a wide variety of public safety organizations here in South Florida. They included members of Sunny Isles Beach Police Department and Aventura Police Department’s K-9 unit, motorcycle unit, patrol officers and Safe Kids USA, who worked closely with Ms. Block to ensure that children’s car seats were installed properly. The idea of educating parents to this critically important topic was Ms. Block’s inspiration for this entire event.

Also on hand were members of the Florida Highway Patrol, Miami Dade Fire Rescue and their Helicopter. There was even a celebrity of sorts on hand. Captain Jeff Fobb of the Miami Dade Fire Rescue’s Venom Response Unit was here with a number of his “assistants” – also known as “critters”. Captain Fobb is referred to as a “celebrity” because many readers enjoy watching him currently on T.V’s “Swamp Wars”on Animal Planet.

Our event kicked off at 9:00 when attendees were educated and entertained by Corporal Rob Ostrov and Officer Luis Chaidez and their highly trained K-9 partners. The “oohs and aahs” ironically were just as loud from moms and dads as they were from sons and daughters. “They’re really cool!” said one youngster to his father, but dad was too enthralled by the intensity of the K-9’s intelligence to acknowledge the comment. They watched the K-9’s apprehend “bad guys” and locate hidden narcotics. Some were surprised to learn that the dogs are friendly, and in fact are not taught to be mean, but rather to have fun.

The “oohs and aahs” were even louder at the next demonstration. Captain Fobb introduced the crowd to several different snakes that are not native and are invasive to South Florida. These potentially dangerous reptiles, as Captain Fobb explained, must be controlled in order to protect native species and people. One of the snakes was over 8 feet long, and massive in girth. Once again both the kids and the kids at heart were mesmerized by these creatures. Thankfully, Captain Fobb brought only non-venomous live species, but used artificial, but very realistic, props to educate everyone about the danger involved with our native venomous species which include water moccasins, rattle snakes and coral snakes.

Just when the crown though they were out of “oohs and aahs”, the City Manager, Alan Cohen, decided to volunteer to be Florida Highway Patrol’s “crash dummy”. He climbed into a crash simulator and allowed Troopers Nelvys Hernandez and Robert Pollack to seat belt him in and crash him into an imaginary object. He Survived!! Afterward, he said that the encounter was “eye opening” since they actually allowed him to roll down hill and abruptly stop as if he were in a collision. After that demonstration, the Troopers placed real crash dummies into another simulator. This device was an actual vehicle that had been cut in half in order to be placed on a flat bed trailer. It was then designed to flip over on the trailer in order to show what happens to the un-seat belted occupant and the seat belted occupant. You guessed it…more “ooohs and aaaahs”.

After the demonstrations, everyone was invited to visit a travel bus provided by the Miami Dade States Attorney’s Office, who was on hand to offer free child fingerprinting and to give out crime prevention information. Then they were invited to visit a pavilion set up to learn about “hyperthermia”, the deadly result of leaving children or pets unattended inside cars. Astationary police helicopter, from Miami Dade Police Department, was also in our parking lot, and guests were invited to climb aboard for a photo-op.

All in all, the City’s first Public Safety Awareness Day was a fantastic day out for the entire family. If you missed this year’s event, please be sure to attend the “Second Annual Public Safety Awareness Day” next year. See you there.

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