By GARY POPP
While it is usually police officers and firefighters who help the community, residents of the Lakeshore Condominiums in Clarksville put the emergency responders on the receiving end of goodwill through a recent fundraiser.
Residents of the Lakeshore Drive complex raised nearly $1,000, and recognized their efforts Thursday evening with a poolside celebration at the condominium. Clarksville firefighters and police officers attended the event and shared educational information for members of Lakeshore Condominiums.
The raised funds were donated to the Clarksville Police Department that will use the money to purchase two bullet-resistant vests for its K9s, Mako and Kilo. Clarksville police Chief Mark Palmer said enough money was raised for the department to put funds toward the purchase of a protective bite suit that officers wear while training the K9s.
Lakeshore Condominium resident Carol Barker, 72, said she and other residents were happy to raise the money to help the police department and said it was wonderful to have police officers and firefighters come to the event.
“There is no words to describe it, I am more than pleased,” she said of the success of the fundraiser and event. “It couldn’t have turned out any better had it been written for a movie.”
She said the firefighters provided blood pressure tests for the residents and performed demonstrations of medical emergency responses.
“It is not just fires they fight, they do a lot of things,” Barker said.
She said the residents were motivated to raise the money to build a stronger community, and hopes that others in the area will be inspired to do the same.
“We wanted to make connections with the officials because we feel like it makes it more of a neighborhood,” she said. “I think it is important, instead of looking at the global aspect, to look in your own neighborhood.”
Barker said before the event was over, several of the firefighters had to suddenly leave to respond to call.
“They got a call, and it was amazing to see how fast they responded and high-tailed it out of there,” she said.
Barker and others also collected nearly 70 stuffed animals which were divided between the police and fire departments.
While something as small as a teddy bear may seem like an insignificant resource for firefighters or police officers, CFD Chief Tom Upton and Palmer said the toys can be a big help after arriving to an emergency. Upton said by giving stuffed animals to children at an emergency scene, who may be fearful of the responding officials, they are put at ease and more willing to provide information.
“When we get out and deal with young kids on a scene, we can use the stuffed animals to make them comfortable and help us get information, such as where they may be hurt,” Upton said. “They can use the stuffed animal to point out where they are injured.”
Palmer also said stuffed animals are a help to officers by calming children who are found at crime scenes such as a domestic battery and other calls involving violence.
Upton said he is a supporter of any community event where firefighters can get to better know area residents.
“It is great anytime we get requests to come out and interact with the community,” Upton said. “It is to everyone’s advantage.”
Upton said when relationships are made between first responders and community members, a better service can be provided.
“By meeting the public, it allows us to get to know the residents that we may, at a later time, have to help in a time of need,” Upton said. “They are able to get to know us as people, so we are not strangers coming into their homes.”
During the event, firefighters performed demonstrations, some of which were specific to the elderly residents, such as what first responders do when helping a person who has fallen.
“There are times when an elderly person falls and needs medical attention,” Upton said. “And, by showing them how we respond, it makes them feel more comfortable and puts them at ease. They feel more comfortable when we come into their environment, and it helps us out. Getting to know these people is a big plus.”
Palmer said he and the whole department was appreciative of the donations provided by the residents.
“It is great to have community members willing to step up and take on this kind of responsibility,” Palmer said.
He said the donations are a big help to the department that already has to stretch its budget.
“For such a small group of people to accomplish such a big task, it’s really a great thing,” he said.