Fire trucks, police vehicles and emergency personnel filled the parking lot at the Pennsylvania Expo Center on Saturday, but there was no emergency.
Instead, , South Whitehall and North Whitehall collaborated to host Community Emergency Preparedness Day, which aimed to educate and inform residents about how to prepare for and react in an emergency or disaster situation.
The event included disaster relief organizations, including local police and fire departments, hospitals and even the Girl Scouts. Each group was given their own stand and were challenged to find a fun and engaging way to encourage safety and preparedness to attendees.
“When people come out to events and take part in things like this, it’s all fun, but they see these displays over and over again and that’s how they start remembering what it is they need to do to prepare for an emergency or disaster,” said Jeanette Agosto, a volunteer with the Greater Lehigh Valley branch of the American Red Cross. “Going to these events is how they learn these types of things.”
The Red Cross, which hosted a scavenger hunt on Saturday, had a sample preparedness kit available, which included medication, pet food, paper plates and plastic ware.
Agosto also emphasized the importance of having the proper paperwork, including a passport, driver’s license, proof of insurance and a list of medications and important phone numbers.
The event had a variety of kid-friendly activities, including a ventriloquist, moon bounce, inflatable slide and a visit from Balloons the Clown. Local fire departments worked together to host the Junior Firefighter Challenge, which gave kids the chance to complete seven tasks that firefighters complete during a rescue, including crawling through small spaces and using a fire hose.
“My son loved that challenge,” said Kirsten Strauss of Trexlertown. “It was a really great way to get some of the younger kids interested in an important topic.”
In addition, police departments provided information about DUI and sobriety checkpoints, and some K-9 units brought out their four-legged friends to do demonstrations.
“I think a big part of what makes these events so important is that we like to believe it’s not going to happen here,” said MaryEllen Shiels, volunteer and team leader for the Upper Macungie Certified Emergency Response Team. “As you can see, there’s a lot of resources available in our community, but a big part of what we’re trying to promote today is individual preparedness.”