Blue lights flashed by the side of State road in Aquinnah on Saturday afternoon. But although the lights were at the town police and fire station, there was no emergency.
At Aquinnah’s first ever public safety day, the biggest concern was whether the hamburger supply was going to run low. This being the first time the event was held, nobody was sure how many would come, but the event was well-attended, particularly popular with elementary schoolers (and their parents). Outside the open bays of the station, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and even a Jet Ski for water rescue (the newest vehicle in Aquinnah’s lineup) were on hand for curious onlookers to explore.
Aquinnah invited Chilmark and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) as well as the Tri-Town Ambulance Department, the sheriff’s department, and Massachusetts state fire control to participate.
Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain said he was inspired by the town of Oak Bluffs, which hosts a similar day. It was a way to show people the police department’s equipment, he said, as well as let people know what services the departments offer. Demonstrations included a practice car extrication and a demonstration of the Wampanoag Tribe’s Lucas machine, which assists with CPR.
The combined services of the departments on hand were put to the test last month during a dramatic CPR rescue. Tri-Town ambulance chief Zeke Wilkins spoke during a pinning ceremony honoring the many individuals who helped save the life of Christopher MacLeod of Chilmark, who had a heart attack.
“On the 18th of June we had a remarkable save,” Chief Wilkins said. He described the chain of events, from the intial CPR administered by new emergency medical technician Kristina West to the arrival of paramedics for helicopter transport to Boston.
“A week later he was home talking to his own kids,” Chief Wilkins said. “It was a wonderful save. There are a lot of people to thank.”
Susan Schofield, Paul Manning, Jonathan Klaren, Don Scranton, Curtis Chandler, Bret Stearns, Alan Ganapol, Ben Retmeir, Tracey Jones, and Ms. West all received certificates.
“It was perfect teamwork, community teamwork,” Chief Wilkins said.
Aquinnah fire chief Simon Bollin took special note of the work of emergency dispatchers such as Mrs. Schofield.
“They’re the lifelines for us,” he said to a round of applause.
After the ceremony, kids continued to make the rounds of the displays, trying on plastic red fire hats and in some cases real rescue equipment. Tripp Murphy tested out his father David’s heavy SWAT gear, buckling somewhat under the weight of the vest. Officer Murphy is a team leader for the Island’s tactical response unit.
“The vest makes you a little bit more fatter,” a friend of Tripp’s observed.
Chief Belain said he considered the day a success.
“We’ll definitely do it again,” he said.
Photo gallery: Aquinnah Spotlights Public Safety.