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Cottage Grove Safety Camp 20 years strong teaching emergency preparedness

Safety Campers and friends Macey Spolidoro, 8, right, and Morgan Voyda, 8, practice CPR on the Cottage Grove Fire Department's high-tech dummies. The two-day Safety Camp provides fun and educational opportunities for children in the community relating to emergency preparedness. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)1 / 14
Cottage Grove fire Lt. Travis Place helps 8-year-old Gregory Fouts wrangle the heavy fire hose to put out mock flames inside a wooden house during a Safety Camp demonstration at Hamlet Park. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 14
Nine-year-old Andrew Dahling basks in the water spewed out by a fire hose last week during the Cottage Grove Safety Camp at Hamlet Park. The 20th-annual camp provides local children the opportunity to learn from the city’s Public Safety Department. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)3 / 14
Cottage Grove firefighter Derek Petersen sprays dozens of kids last week during the city’s Safety Camp, a two-day educational camp that teaches local children about police, fire and EMS safety. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)4 / 14
Greta Kirsch, 8, tries her hand at fingerprinting with the help of Cottage Grove police officer Matt Foucault during Safety Camp. The 20th-annual camp provides local children the opportunity to learn from the city’s Public Safety Department. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)5 / 14
Cottage Grove police officer Matt Foucault demonstrates how the police department extracts a shoe print during an investigation demonstration last week at the city’s Safety Camp. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)6 / 14
The Cottage Grove Fire Department’s extraction and car fire demonstration is the main attraction during day two of the city’s Safety Camp at Hamlet Park. After showing how the Jaws of Life works, firefighters set ablaze a vehicle and then hose it down. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)7 / 14
Cottage Grove fire Lt. Travis Place helps 8-year-old Brielle Hamilton turn on the fire hose to put out mock flames inside a wooden house during a Safety Camp demonstration at Hamlet Park. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)8 / 14
Firefighter/paramedic Lisa McMahon teaches a group of Safety Campers the basics of CPR. McMahon played “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, which has the proper beat used when administering chest compressions. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)9 / 14
Cottage Grove police officer Nils Torning demonstrates how police K-9, Blitz, attacks perpetrators that flee a scene. Blitz came to the department in 2007 from the Czech Republic. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss) 10 / 14
Police officer Mike Vandervoort and his K-9, Blitz, spends time with the Safety Campers last week during the annual two-day event. Vandervort and Blitz, along with officer Nils Torning, demonstrated how to properly train a police dog. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)11 / 14
The Cottage Grove Fire Department’s extraction and car fire demonstration is the main attraction during day two of the city’s Safety Camp at Hamlet Park. After showing how the Jaws of Life works, firefighters set ablaze a vehicle and then hose it down. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)12 / 14
Safety Camp team leaders, under the direction of police Sgt. Gail Griffith, demonstrate how to property conduct arm signals when turning on a bicycle. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)13 / 14
Retired police officer Gina Lamers helps 11-year-old Audrey Spolidoro adjust her helmet before heading out for a ride around Hamlet Park during last week's Safety Camp. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)14 / 14

More than 75 Cottage Grove kids took over Hamlet Park last week for two full days of fun and educational activities aimed at teaching basic safety skills.

The city’s 20th-annual Safety Camp exposes children to everyday emergencies and provides solutions for when those situations arise.

“They just love it,” Cottage Grove police officer Gail Griffith said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about safety. And the cool thing is they bring the information they’ve learned back to their families. So the parents and their friends are learning too.”

The first day, kids learned about safely navigating the Internet, had a visit from the Washington County Mounted Patrol, learned kitchen and firearm safety, and investigated a mock crime scene.

Police officers Matt Foucault and Gena Schill demonstrated how law enforcement extracts shoe and fingerprints from a crime scene. They also taught what to look for and remember when describing a suspect.

Cottage Grove firefighters also drenched the kids with a high-pressure hose off the back of a fire truck.

Day two consisted of bike safety, run by Griffith and retired police officer Gina Lamers. Helmets donated by 3M-Cottage Grove were given to each Safety Camp participant. Team leaders helped kids learn the proper signals for turning on a bike, and the session ended with a bike ride around Hamlet Park.

One of the most anticipated events took place shortly before lunch and had each Safety Camper in awe. Each year, Rogers Auto and Truck Parts, in Cottage Grove, donates a vehicle which the fire department uses for demonstration.

Cottage Grove Fire Marshal PJ McMahon and his crew showed campers the delicate maneuvers required to extract drivers from a vehicle. Once the front doors were removed by the Jaws of Life, Safety Campers that had experienced the two-day camp before began chanting, “Burn it up!” The van erupted into flames for several minutes before firefighters extinguished the fire.

The afternoon wrapped up with CPR lessons from firefighter/paramedic Lisa McMahon and a demonstration with police K-9, Blitz, and officer Mike Vandervort.

A brief graduation ceremony was also held.

Other activities held during the camp included a “Buckle Up!” seminar, dog safety, first aid training, and chemical, backpack and water safety.

“This is just so much fun,” said Molly Pietruszewski, Parks and Recreation supervisor, who has been involved with many of the last Safety Camps. “It’s a great way for kids to get outside and learn about safety. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”

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