Encompass Blog

Helpful Hints from Our Hometown Heroes

July 10, 2024  |  Community  |  By Encompass

Encompass summer camp kicked off last week with one of our favorite annual themes – Hometown Heroes. This week sees visits from key members of our community who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe or coming to our rescue in times of need. Among our visitors were King County Search Dogs Max (6 years), Jack (2 years), and their handlers Linda and Heidi.

While our campers delighted in the opportunity to give Max and Jack some loving pats and watch them in action with a rescue demonstration, they also learned some valuable lessons.

They were first asked one important question: “What should you do if you find yourself lost?”

While Ms. Linda and Ms. Heidi agreed with the first answer thrown out – “Call 911,” they really wanted to get down to what happens when there is no phone or cell service.

Their two biggest rules:

  1. STAY STILL! If you move around, others can miss you. People trying to find you may go to where you were, but if you’re no longer there, that doesn’t help anybody!
  1. Find the nearest tree – and hug it! The tree will ensure you don’t move, and it might even give you a sense of security if you have something to hold onto.

Ms. Linda and Ms. Heidi then talked about the role of the search dogs who use their powerful noses to find people by scent. Encompass Family Services Manager Sam Sinanan found some clever hiding spaces and students were able to see how the dogs found her, quickly returned to their handler with a jump or nudge to signal their find, then led them back to Ms. Sam. Campers understood that there was nothing to be afraid of. The dogs didn’t actually touch Ms. Sam, but simply sniffed and returned to their handler to complete the rescue mission. Such amazing little heroes!

Ms. Linda and Ms. Heidi had a few additional tips for parents, particularly when it comes to packing for a hike. While it can be tempting to just have a grown-up carry everything, there are a few items each child should carry on their own so they have them if they become separated:

  1. Their own water bottle. People can go a long time without food, but not without water.
  2. A whistle – to help attract attention. Whistles can also help pass the time when you are lost, lonely, and waiting.
  3. A jacket – even if it’s hot outside; it may become cool before a rescue is made.

Even young children can carry a small backpack to accommodate these items. Snacks are also helpful as well as a name and phone number somewhere on clothes or in the backpack so that even if a child is too scared to speak when they are found, they can show their rescuer who to call.

Finally, they stressed that parents should not hesitate once they discover a child is missing. The more time that passes from the moment of discovery to when a 911 call is made, the more difficult it can be to find the child. A false alarm is better than a long lapse of time.

dog between owners legsWe are so grateful for this fun and informative visit and for the service the King County Search Dogs provide for our community. Operating for more than 28 years, this all-volunteer non-profit organization provides trailing, air scent, and specialty search dog teams trained for canine search in support of the King County Sheriff’s Office. To learn more about them, please visit www.kcsearchdogs.org.

Some Final Hometown Heroes’ Wisdom

While there was so much to learn from our King County Search Dogs, campers enjoyed visits from Eastside Fire & Rescue and the Snoqualmie Police Department who also imparted a few important tips:

Fire safety talks with kids: If there is a fire in your home and you see someone in big dark clothes and a mask – if that person calls to you and tells you to come out, do it! Even though they might look scary, that person is there to help you and lead you to safety.

Law enforcement talks with kids: The big reminder here is that police are mostly here to help us. They will drive someone home whose car has broken down, help change flat tires, help find lost people and animals, and more. If you are in public and can’t find your grown-up, a police officer will help you.

For both fire trucks and police vehicles: If you are in a car and see the lights and hear the sirens, the driver should carefully pull over to let them pass. They might be on their way to put out a fire, help someone, or maybe even arrest a bad guy!

Thank you to all our Hometown Heroes!

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