Kids at Loving and Learning in North Charleston discovered Wednesday that education is more than learning the alphabet, identifying colors and naming the food groups.
Add getting to know 9-1-1 to the list.
Amid squeals of laughter, about a dozen children, ages 3 or 4, lined up to test out their dial pad skills on a big red phone. With help, they pushed the three numbers that plug them into the adult network of first responders. A recorded voice asked what was their emergency.
Then came high-fives for a job well done.
"They'll go home and tell their parents about it," said teacher Amber Culley.
The phone lesson happened after a playful time with police, fire and paramedic hand puppets.
"Are you afraid of them? No, because they are your friends," said Lisa Nickel, a 9-1-1 educator for Charleston County.
Emergency calls from children are not rare, said Jim Lake, Director of the Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center.
"They are not common but we do receive a fair amount of calls from children and young people," he said.
Figures on 9-1-1 calls placed by children were not available. "Unfortunately, I do not have numbers as we do not track this data," Lake said in an email.
In response to questions about children dialing 9-1-1, the county on Wednesday released a recording of a young person on James Island calling for help.
"We have a neighbor who fell and she needs EMS. We heard her screaming and we ran down there and she needs help," a girl said.
A dispatcher gave instructions on how to control bleeding until paramedics were on scene. "The fire truck is just now coming," the girl said.
Charleston County is observing National 9-1-1 Education Month with events such as the one Wednesday. The campaign aims to help citizens better understand the emergency communication system.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.
Brad Nettles/Staff Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 educator Lisa Nickel (right), with the help of Sasha Vargas-Fimiani, use hand puppets of emergency responders to teach these young children at Loving and Learning Daycare that they are friends they can trust in an emergency situation. Nickel also taught the three-year-olds how to dial 9-1-1 on a phone.×