Public safety, teamwork and K-9s garner 9-1-1 Awareness Day spotlight

GEORGETOWN – Sussex County’s 9-1-1 Awareness Day is about emergency operations, first responders, teamwork and demonstrations primed for public safety.

Traditionally, specially-trained dogs are a favorite attraction.

And K-9s did not disappoint Wednesday during the 18th Annual 9-1-1 Awareness Day event staged at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center near the Delaware Coastal Airport.

K-9 troopers Ivan and Fifo were among several Delaware State Police dogs that sank their teeth into make-believe perpetrators, much to the awe and delight of the more than 1,100 students, predominantly fifth graders from schools throughout the county.

The event, sponsored jointly by Delaware State Police and Sussex County that operate the 911 center, is held each year to offer the public a better understanding of how the 911 center functions.

It also provides a glimpse into how police, firefighters, medical personnel and emergency dispatchers work each day to save lives.

“It’s about how all of the agencies work together as one team, whether it be fire or natural disaster …,” said Richard Short, assistant chief dispatcher at the 911 center. “That’s why we try to bring everybody in, so that if there was a major catastrophe or something that you would see all these players.”

Sussex County EMS paramedics were on hand offering youngsters a quick but valuable lesson in Take 10 CPR instruction, a skill that one day might save the life of a loved one or someone experiencing a heart attack.

In addition to tours of the 911 center, the event showcased the Sussex County and Delaware State Police mobile command centers, Blades Volunteer Fire Company’s Fire Safety “Smoke” House, Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office, DelDOT, Citizen’s Court, Delaware State Fire School, Delaware State Forestry, Delaware Emergency Management Agency, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Sussex County Sheriff’s Office, the state police dive team and hostage negotiation team and it EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) unit, Sussex County amateur radio as well as several others, including Georgetown and Greenwood ladder fire trucks and Georgetown and Lewes ambulance squads.

In all, 33 local, county or state agencies took part.

Student turnout was gauged to be one of if not the largest since the event switched from third and fifth graders to fifth grade only. An older group from the criminal justice program at Sussex Tech High School also attended.

“This was probably our largest crowd. Our count was at 1,137,” said Mr. Short, noting that did not include chaperones and teachers. “I know when I talked to the ice cream lady we were over 1,200.”

Grotto Pizza and the Frozen Farmer provided lunch and treats and bottled water was donated by Pepsi and Coca Cola, Mr. Short said.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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