Parents, children and a brave little boy who survived a stabbing got to interact with emergency personnel and their equipment during an event Saturday in Belleville.
Kmart’s Community Safety Day was held Saturday at the store at 7230 Westfield Plaza Drive in Belleville.
The event featured area police officers, firefighters and paramedics. County 911 dispatchers and K-9 officers attended. An ARCH medical helicopter landed, and the crew gave people an up-close look at the chopper.
Food was served, and a fingerprinting stand and child ID kits were available.
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Belleville police and firefighters, and deputies from the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, all in uniform, showed up and interacted with the crowd. Visitors got to climb around the police cars and fire trucks. Personnel turned the sirens on for the crowd and demonstrated how the equipment works.
On hand was 9-year-old Nicholas Day, whose mother was stabbed to death in August in Swansea. Nicholas suffered three stab wounds during the attack.
His eyes sparkled as he marveled at the police cars and their flashing lights. Asked whether he liked them, he replied excitedly, “Yes!”
Illinois State Police Trooper Brent Summers showed Nicholas how to turn the sirens on and off and showed him the cameras inside of the car.
And when Nicholas was presented his new red bicycle and helmet, he rushed straight over to his aunt, Erica Day, and asked if it was OK for him to take a spin. As soon as the strap clicked on his helmet, the boy sped across the parking lot.
He shouted back: “It’s fun! I like my bike, and the police cars, too!”
It’s fun! I like my bike, and the police cars, too!
Nicholas Day, boy who survived stabbing
Erica Day said he has continued on the same positive path he has been on since the stabbing.
“He’s a happy little boy. He’s having a ball and still doing great. He went to his grandad’s funeral yesterday and he’s still doing great. He’s resilient, just an amazing little boy — amazing — more than even I knew,” she said.
Other children giggled and showed their excitement over the police cars, fire trucks, and the smoke-house that the Belleville Fire Department uses in its “Survive Alive Program.”
“We use it to teach children how to get out of a house in case of smoke or fire,” Capt. Brant Maine said. “They get what we teach them and they take it home and teach it to their parents. Kids are great learners.”
The ARCH medical helicoptor halted nearly everyone in their tracks as it circled overhead three times and then landed on the store’s parking lot. A crowd raced over to it and children were allowed to climb inside and get a first-hand look. Some talked to Jim Shoffstall, flight paramedic, about his job.
Shoffstall said he assists emergency crews that are on the ground such as ambulances, fire and police personnel with getting patients to trauma centers and big hospitals quickly. He said he’s been a flight paramedic for 25 years.
Piper Riley, 6, and his sister Justin Riley, 8, and their cousin Alexis Simmons, 7, got inside the helicopter. Justin said it was his favorite of all of the emergency equipment there.
Representatives from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital were on hand passing out information about their services. Linda Harris from Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation gave out information to families on how to get health care coverage.
Representatives from the Belleville Humane Society were at the event, too. They gave out information about their services and they brought two dogs who available for adoption. Children and parents petted them.
St. Clair County deputies Desmond Williams, Calvin Savage and Officer Annette Tim, were on hand passing out toys to children. Savage allowed the children to take pictures with him and his dog.
The idea behind the event was to show children they can turn to emergency personnel for help.
Larry Pultman, Kmart’s loss-prevention manager, was pleased with the large turnout. He said it was bigger than last year’s. He and store manager Kristina Munoz said they were happy they could put a big smile on Nicholas’ face.