HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Representatives from the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville taught munitions safety to students during Columbia Elementary School’s “Community Heroes Day” on Friday, November 18.
The event, coordinated by CES’s Parent Teacher Association, provided students an opportunity to celebrate and learn about the everyday heroes living in their local community, said Mary Zappe, the school’s Parent Teacher Association director of programs.
“We are so fortunate to have so many organizations right here in the Huntsville area who are doing impressive work to keep us all safe,” said Zappe. “And that’s what Heroes Day is all about – those heroes who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe and also the kids themselves, who can be heroes, too, by taking what they’ve learned today and teaching others.”
Amanda Sticker, engineer and technical lead for the 3Rs Explosives Safety Education Program, and Ellen Haapoja, geophysicist, joined Madison City firefighters and police officers to highlight elements of their jobs and teach life-saving safety skills to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“I think it’s wonderful to show children they can be whatever they want to be by showing them our careers, which they may not have known existed,” Haapoja said. “But the most important thing for me will always be safety because teaching them the three Rs can save their lives and allow them to follow through on their dreams.”
The 3Rs Explosives Safety Education Program is a Department of Defense effort to teach community members what to do if they come across munitions, which can be found anywhere but are more likely to be encountered in areas currently or formerly used for military training or testing. Sticker taught the students to respond by following the three Rs: “Recognize, Retreat, Report.”
“We first have to recognize that we are looking at something that could be dangerous,” she said. “Then, we retreat by backing away, and we report what we found to a grown-up, like a police officer, who can help.”
Students also learned how Huntsville Center geophysicists visit locations where munitions may be present and use a variety of tools, such as metal detectors, to identify them and remove them safely. Haapoja showed students how to use a metal detector and gave them some hands-on training by allowing them to find metal objects on the ground.
“The kids had fun and many asked follow-up questions,” she said. “Allowing them to participate in the ‘clean-up’ made it more engaging and exciting.”
To learn more about the 3Rs Explosives Safety Education Program, visit 3Rs.mil.