MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
The station’s emergency response units showed up and showed off during Yuma’s annual Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods event Saturday at the Yuma Palms Shopping Center parking lot.
The event was designed to promote crime and drug prevention awareness, generate participation in anti-crime activities and strengthen emergency service and community relations.
The station Provost Marshal’s Office, Search and Rescue and Aircraft Rescue Firefighting sections were among the first-responder teams present.
Hundreds of Yuma citizens and visitors from around the United States made their way through emergency service information and display booths.
One of the events first-seen displays was ARFF’s fire truck, where children spent the day flipping switches and scaring people with its sirens.
It was cool to have so many chil¬dren come and try on the fire suits and play in the truck, said Lance Cpl. John Gennuso, station firefighter, after displaying the Marines Corps’ specially made fire suit for a group of children. They come here and many of them are only 3 or 4 years old, but they already want to be firefighters.
On the far side of the mall parking lot, PMO showcased its mobile com¬mand unit, which is used during joint emergency-service operations.
The military police officers even brought along their furry law enforce¬ment friend, McGruff the Crime Dog, to meet the children and hand out do-it-yourself finger print kits.
Last year there were many children who attended this event so it only made sense to bring McGruff along this time said, Capt. Larry Vines, sta¬tion provost marshal.
Despite the draw of playing fire¬fighter or police officer, children and even adults couldn’t resist the chance to strap on a helmet and get behind the controls of SAR’s HH-1N helicopter.
“I was on my way to the store, but once I saw the helicopter I had to stop here first,” said Wendy Lopez, a visi¬tor from California, who was one of several adults who couldn’t resist the draw of getting in the cockpit.
Lopez said she had always wanted to get in the pilot’s seat of a helicopter and was glad to finally do it.
This is about giving the people of Yuma the chance to see everything the city has to offer them, said GAIN coordinator and Yuma Police Depart¬ment officer, Bruce Turner.
Most of the time when citizens interact with the emergency-response agencies it is because they have become a victim, witness or suspect, said Turner.
However, through GAIN and the support of all the participating agen¬cies, citizens can get the face-to-face time to ask questions and interact with these brave men and women they normally wouldn’t, said Turner.
Turner said he was glad to have the station participate in the event because they have always been a big part of the community.
The Marine emergency responders and the city of Yuma first respond¬ers have always had a good working relationship and it is always good to show the community they are all here to help, said Turner.
GAIN is Arizona’s version of National Night Out Against Crime, which is traditionally held during the summer months. The event is con¬ducted on a separate date from the National Night Out due to Arizona’s extremely hot summer season.