NEW PALESTINE — Two youngsters standing in the back of the ambulance were getting a chance to put on some medical gear — a real stethoscope. They were checking for a heartbeat on the medical dummy that was strapped to the gurney as a medical professional supervised.

The community interaction was just one of many set up at the Sugar Creek Township Fire Department Fire Prevention and Life Safety Open House Saturday, Sept. 24.

The annual event was held at Fire Station 45, 3545 S 600 West New Palestine, and is an important gathering for the department. Fire officials say they like to take the time to not only interact with community members, but educate them on some of the little things they can do at home to keep themselves and family members safe.

“I think it’s great to have this kind of interaction with a chance for the community to get back out and meet members of our local organizations,” Alaina Green, New Palestine said. “I think it helps compliment some of the safety elements we try to teach at home.”

Organizers brought in 45 health and informational vendors, and they also showcased the new SCTFD drone, conducted a live fire burn, landed a helicopter and held several other interaction opportunities. They also gave away free safety alarms and bike helmets for kids.

“Each year the footprint for this gets bigger and that’s the plan — to bring different community agencies here so we can talk about safety and health under one roof,” said Capt. Tony Bratcher, who handles public relations for SCTFD.

Bratcher said it’s good for community members to learn about safety measures from different professional organizations throughout the county, and the open house puts safety and health first.

“I like it because this gives people a chance to come in and see all of our gear, including or trucks, so they get to see what their tax dollars pay for,” Bratcher said. “Plus, this gives us a chance to interact with people when there is not an emergency, and that’s how you build the community trust.”

Chief Brandon Kleine enjoys the Open House for those reasons and credited Life Safety and Public Education Specialist Beth Gulley for all the hard work putting the annual event together.

“It’s great because the community gets a chance to come in and see us and we get to see the kids’ faces light up when they get to do things like climb on the big trucks,” Kleine said. “But, I also like the fact other agencies and vendors are here for a great community outreach.”

That included Sheriff Brad Burkhart, Major Bobby Campbell and several other members of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department who were one of the many county agencies attending and interacting with the community.

Sheriff’s officials enjoyed swearing in youngsters, giving them stick-on sheriff’s badges to wear after Campbell had youngsters raise their right hand to take the Sheriff’s oath.

There were also members of the county’s SWAT team at the Open House. They brought their “monster truck” and allowed people to check out the massive police safety unit.

One of the many demonstrations included putting a bike safety helmet on a watermelon to show how a simple thing like wearing a helmet can really make a difference when a person falls.

“Last time when we gave away the bike helmets, we later learned of a kid who crashed and really hurt the side of his face with lots of road rash, but image what that could have been had he not had on a new helmet,” Gulley said.

She noted if even one child or family member learns a new safety measure at the Open House, they would consider the event a success.

“All the vendors we have here, they do this because they want to see people safe,” Gulley said.

She then pointed to a vendor passing out free carbon monoxide detectors. They were able to do that thanks to grant funding.

The other big highlight was the Close Before You Doze burn. Officials built a small-scale home with two bedrooms and set it on fire to show the importance of shutting your bedroom door at night, to help keep smoke out should a fire occur.

Officials from SCTFD also got to show off their new drone unit. They hid a dummy outside and then did a search to find the fake person. The drone will come in handy officials said when looking for people around the county due to the fact it has a thermal imaging element.

“We bought the drone this year,” Kleine said. “Six of us are FAA trained as controllers now.”

Officials from Vernon Township also held a Public Safety Day event this past weekend. Officials noted everyone did a great job and their off duty and on duty shift crews put on an amazing vehicle extrication demonstration. They also sent out a special congratulations to Gary “Toastie” Sharrett on the recognition he received for serving the community for over 50 years.