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A military child is proud about catching a fish at a camping demo hosted by Quantico EFMP and Quantico Outdoor Adventures at Barnett Field June 14.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

EFMP sparks summer fun

30 Jun 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

“We want all our babies to know that these are the good guys,” said Amy Watson, training, education and outreach specialist with the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

She was talking to a group of parents and children preparing to tour Fire Station 531 on the main side of the base. The loud noises and flashing lights of fire trucks, not to mention the intimidating appearance of firefighters in their fire-protective coats and masks can be frightening for young ones with or without special needs, so the sensory-friendly tour was designed to familiarize the children with firefighters, what they do, and the equipment they use.

The children got to climb inside a fire engine and watched as the firefighters turned on the red flashing lights on the engine and the ladder truck. They watched a firefighter slide down the fireman’s pole into the station and got a chance to spray empty buckets with water from a fire truck’s hose.

Firefighter Don Perry talked to the children about some basic safety tips.

“What number do you call if there’s an emergency?” he asked.

“911!” answered one child.

“Exactly, and is it an emergency if your cat gets stuck in a tree?”

“No!” everyone shouted.

He told the children that if they ever find matches in their homes, they should tell a grown-up. He also advised the grown-ups to talk with their kids about what to do in case of a fire at home.

“They have fire drills all the time at school, but we never do them at home,” Perry said. “It’s a good idea to make sure they know where to meet you and where to go. Talk about how they should stuff towels or sheets under the door to protect from smoke in case they get stuck in a room.”

Perry instructed the children not to hide from firefighters who come to their houses in an emergency situation.

“We want to be able to find and help you quickly,” he explained.

The kids watched as Firefighter Anthony Sweat showed them that a firefighter dressed in his or her gear is just an ordinary person. He added each piece of the firefighter’s outfit one at a time: woolen throat and head protector, pants, boots, coat, gloves, helmet, and mask. He squatted down and invited the children to approach and examine him, touch him, and give him high fives. Then he stood up and removed each piece until he was back to Firefighter Sweat again.

“See, it’s the same guy,” Perry told the kids. “So you don’t need to be afraid of these guys if you see them at your house.”

EFMP also sponsored “Camping at Barnett Field” recently.

“We wanted to give kids a camping experience and let families know there is a way to go camping,” Watson said.

She recalled attempting to take her young children camping for the first time.

“At 1 a.m. we had to give up and go home because they were terrified,” she said.

Kids attending the event got to crawl inside a tent (provided by Quantico Outdoor Adventures), snuggle into a sleeping bag, try on a life jacket and pretend to row a kayak, and go on a scavenger hunt for nature items.

Watson said a good next step for families wishing to try out camping with their children would be to set up a tent in their own backyards.

“EFMP this summer is all about outdoor family fun,” she said.

EFMP is a mandatory program for Marines with special needs family members. It ensures the continuum of care for eligible family members by maximizing the provision of medical, educational, and local services. MCB Quantico EFMP is the East Coast Regional Office which provides family support services to Quantico MCB, Europe, Africa, and Marines stationed on inspector/instructor or other specialty duty assignments east of the Mississippi.


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