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NEWSTRIBUNE PHOTOS/CHRIS YUCUS 8-year-old Jack Dergance of Spring Valley enjoys a hot dog as he chats with Spring Valley police officer Sarah Kinkin, his aunt, during the National Night Out cookout Tuesday night at Kirby Park in Spring Valley.
Don’t worry — it wasn’t an emergency that brought Spring Valley police and fire department, the OSF Life Flight helicopter and 10/33 Ambulance Service to Kirby Park Tuesday night.
Emergency responders of every style gathered at the park for the 21st annual Spring Valley Police-sponsored National Night Out.
Police Night Out events are held nationwide and are designed to create crime prevention awareness generate support for local law enforcement and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.
Kids and adults were able to experience emergency response vehicles up-close during the event. The Life Flight helicopter was landed in a baseball field at the park to allow the community a chance to see what it looks like.
Helicopter pilots and a flight nurse were available to answer questions about the helicopter and what it’s like to work as part of a Life Flight response team.
Why they were there Kids of all ages came out with their parents to enjoy a night of camaraderie with local emergency response crews.
“Hopefully it’s fun and educational,” said Michael Stauter, a Life Flight nurse.
It isn’t just the kids who are excited to see the helicopter in the field. Adults were asking the pilots if they could climb inside the helicopter to take a closer look at the tiny, mobile hospital room-like area within.
Life Flight pilot Jim Uthe, said that there are many features that attract children to the helicopter, but one in particular stuck out: the propellers.
“What’s the coolest thing? The big fan upstairs,” said Uthe. “They (the kids) love the helmets too.”
Uthe added that there are a lot of buttons and screens inside the helicopter but no keys.
“We don’t want anyone to touch or change something they shouldn’t.”
Comments from the chief Police officers were stationed throughout the park mingling with the community.
Officers had tables set up with free kid-friendly give-a-ways and information about crime prevention and safety programs that are in place to educate the community.
“This allows us an opportunity to interact on a different level with the community. It’s not an emergency situation,” said police chief Kevin Sangston.
“It’s a good community event for the community to come out and meet the officers,” he added.
The night featured many other activates and participants.
Spring Valley Fire Department and the 10/33 Ambulance Service opened up their trucks and had crew members available to answer any questions they may receive. Free food, games and swimming at Coveny Memorial Pool also were offered to the community during the event.
“We look forward to it every year,” Sangston said.