Local first responders and law enforcement working to build early relationships with children

First responders want to make sure your kids aren’t afraid of them. Paw Patrol Live is a show about a group of dogs and each one is a different first responder. It’s performing this week at the First Interstate Center in Spokane. Kids who went were treated to a special event before the show.

Not only did kids get tot see their favorite Paw Patrol characters on stage, they got to see the real-life versions outside the theater, too. The non-puppy, non-cartoon versions of all their favorite Paw Patrol characters were at the show with sticker badges, a patrol car and a fire engine.

A lot of kids don’t get to meet firefighters or police officers up close, except at an emergency. Spokane Police and Spokane Fire don’t want it to be that way. They want to introduce themselves to kids when there is no crisis, give them a high-five and let them know, they can trust them.

“We are here for kids and their parents to have positive interactions with first responders,” said Jamie McIntyre, Spokane Fire Department.

Spokane Police and Fire were out making connections with children, and building relationships with preschoolers so they know who they are and what they do.

Dozens of kids got to take pictures with firefighters and Spokane Police. They also got to ask them questions and talk about what they do for their community.

First responders said these first interactions are crucial. In case of an emergency — they want kids to know they can trust them.

“In a fire situation, it’s incredibly important if kids see firefighters that they go directly to the firefighters – we don’t want them to run, we don’t want them to hide,” McIntyre said.

Seeing a firefighter or officer in their uniform can be frightening the first time. Events like this – are meant to change that.

“It’s intimidating to the two-year-old, to the 22-year-old, to the 82-year-old,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane Police Department.

“It’s very important because my son was just in an ambulance and firefighters came to help us. It’s good they know who they are and are comfortable with them,” said Brittany McKenzie, a parent.

Kids got to see their equipment and even grill them with burning questions.

The idea is to let kids know, on the job, they may look serious. But actually, they’re just like any other community member when they’re not at work.

“We’re people, too. We go to the same schools, we shop at the same grocery stores and we really just want to get to know the kids,” Officer DeRuwe said.

“Firefighters and police officers are their helpers and their friends. They arrive in uniforms, they might arrive in a crisis situation – so we want kids to know that they’re there to help. They are someone they can go to, if they feel unsafe,” McIntyre said.

If you don’t get the chance to meet a first responder, Spokane Fire recommends just getting your child familiar with what they look like and what they do. It can be as easy as pointing out a fire truck when it passes by in the car, and saying – those are firefighters, they’re on their way to help people.

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