By Kevin Kindelin
Have you ever imagined or remembered what it felt like to be a frightened child in need of rescue?
Perhaps you were a victim of an accident in need of medical attention and your parents weren’t around. A ride in a noisy ambulance can be terrifying. What did you want at that moment more than anything else that ever crossed your mind? You probably wanted someone who would rescue you, someone to make the bad go away, someone you could literally trust with your life, right?
Pastor Tom draws the comparison between trusting police and firefighters and putting faith in Jesus. We’re all frightened children if we don’t have the trust in Him to protect us and, ultimately save us. Knowing that He’s there, no matter how dire the circumstance, is what gives us peace as Christians. While the police and firefighters can’t bring about our salvation, they are instrumental in the saving of countless lives. Perhaps if children are taught to trust them in a manner similar to how they are taught to trust in Jesus, then maybe there will be less fear during a potential emergency situation. Immanuel goes to great lengths to teach our students to understand and be familiar with what the police and fire departments do and to trust them.
Each spring, firefighters come out to spend a day with our students, spending about 45 minutes with each grade level, except the fifth graders who take a spring field trip to Station 84 in Palatine. The visiting firefighters gear each talk around the level of the class being addressed. They try to impress upon the children not to fear them and even demonstrate putting on their equipment so the kids can see who it is inside. They speak with their helmets on so the children will recognize what their voices sound like. Police officers and firefighters also come out in the spring to give “Officer Friendly” talks designed to show children that they are their friends.
The Bobcat Blitz, a family friendly race and community outreach event, is another way Immanuel builds on its relationship with the police and fire departments. The police assist along the race route with traffic control keeping the participants safe. This year, the fire department even brought out its equipment and allowed the children to explore the fire trucks and meet the firefighters.
As a confirmation service project, our 6 through 8 graders stuffed toy Dalmatians and took them to the fire station. The paramedics give them to children who need to be transported by ambulance. To a frightened child, a simple stuffed dog given by a paramedic represents comfort and trust.
Recently, the fire department reached out to Immanuel and asked us to serve as an emergency shelter for the Palatine Street Fest in the event of an emergency. The fire department would be there to open the building and the police would provide security. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and no other crisis will present itself, but the preparation for any disaster and the ongoing relationship with the police and fire departments is vital to strengthening our bond with, and the safety of, the community.
The police and fire departments in Palatine not only provide life saving protection and rescue services to our community, but also training and awareness opportunities, particularly for children. It’s important for Immanuel Lutheran Church and School to have and foster relationships with these public safety departments as we strive to build our community in Christ. The interactions we have with them are not only beneficial to our church and school, but hopefully the message we share touches the souls of those sworn to serve and protect us.