DUNN — As a group of youth gathered around large emergency vehicles, Grant Jones presented several items of equipment which are crucial for his job as a Sampson County ranger for the North Carolina Forest Service. The most important — a fire shelter.
“Why do you think this is silver?,” Jones asked while holding up the safety device used by personnel trapped by wildfires. “It’s silver because it going to reflect some of that radiant heat with the approaching fire.”
As the inquisitive students listed, Jones continued to discuss the other mechanics of the device which is built from space material used by astronauts. He was one of several emergency personnel who attended the second Community Service Day at Midway Middle School. The recent event gave students the opportunity to learn about the jobs of law enforcement, emergency personnel and other service providers.
“It’s good and educational for the kids,” Jones said after taking a break from a presentation. “They get to see what’s actually in the county. Some of them might think this is pretty cool and they may want to get into forestry.”
Organizer Robin Marley stressed the importance of community service from men and women in the county. The other participants included Clement, Plainview, and Taylor’s Bridge fire departments; Sampson County EMS, NC Hazmat officers, N.C. Highway Patrol and the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department.
“I wanted the students to see them as individuals and get to experience the equipment that they use,” Marley said. “I also wanted them to show respect when they see law enforcement and emergency officials.”
Jones was joined by Wade Hardison, firefighter and equipment operator. As rangers, some of their duties include making recommendations about timber management, insect and disease problems and fire control. Jones added that rangers from the area have been sent to other North Carolina regions and to other regions of country, as far as California or Alaska.
“It’s a great learning experience for everybody,” Hardison said. “A lot of people may just see us up and down the road, but this will give them a chance to actually get hands-on about what our job consist of. I think it’s a really great idea for the school to put this on and I hope they continue to do it in the future.”
Eighth-grader Allie Dunn said the program was very educational and believes it may help students select a career when they become adults.
“It expands our horizons after high school or college,” Allie said about the presentations. “I thought it was very interesting because I plan to go into the medical field. It was fun being able to see the types of jobs that are out there.”
Caleb Owens, an eighth-grade student, enjoyed looking at equipment from fire departments, which are used for emergency situations.
“They help us out everyday,” Caleb said about the work of community agencies. “We don’t realize how big their jobs are. They help us a lot.”
Allie felt the same way about the emergency personnel who help during urgent conditions.
“A lot of these people save lives,” Allie said. “They have very interesting jobs that are very important to our community in many ways.”