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Cops, choppers and helpers: Up close with public safety careers


As a Spectrum Health Aero Med helicopter descended on the Marshall Elementary schoolyard-turned-landing zone, students were propelled into a morning of learning about emergency first responders.

Wide-eyed kindergarten through fourth-graders pointed upward as the chopper – used for rapid transportation to hospitals – circled the sky with blades whirring. “I’m interested in learning more about what kind of things they have to do, like saving people,” said fourth-grader Madison Law.

Madison got her wish and lots more information about people who work on the front-line of emergencies. Representatives from Michigan State Police Canine Unit, Byron Township/Cutlerville Sheriff’s Department, Life EMS, Byron Township Fire Department and the Kent County Scientific Support Unit opened their vehicles in the school parking lots.

Students get close to the helicopter

Greg Jackson, dad to fourth-grader Luke, and third-grader Noah, organized the event as a way to expand on a fire safety presentation at Marshall last year. He said he likes to find ways to enhance learning at the school.

“We’re opening students’ eyes and saying, ‘I know you all say you want to be a firefighter, but did you know the fire team has so many different divisions to it and so do the police?’ ” Jackson said. “It’s more than just being in a police car or on a firetruck, it’s doing the science behind it and the logistics.”

Principal John Krajewski said the day was perfect for hands-on learning and creating a connection with the community.

“Going beyond the walls of the classroom and letting students interact with adults who have chosen careers focused on helping brings awareness to the good that these professionals do,” he said. “It also allows our teachers to have a great starting point to begin deeper dialogue about career paths to our students and how you can do good for others as a working professional.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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