Paulina Elementary School was delivered a plaque via AirLink to honor their exemplary Firebusters participation

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - AirLink dropped in at Paulina Elementary School to deliver a plaque they earned due to their exemplary Firebusters participation.

On Thursday, students at Paulina Elementary School stood in the field behind their building and watched wide-eyed as the AirLink chopper circled above them.

When it landed in a cloud of dust, the excitement was palpable as the doors opened and the flight crew emerged.

"It looks like a fly buzzing around" laughed a fourth grader. "This is the best day of my life, ever!" exclaimed a second grader through an ear to ear grin.

Students got up close and personal with the aircraft, and each one took their turn inside the chopper. The flight crew was able to teach the students things about the importance of Air Link, and they answered questions well.

Normally when the "Air Link" chopper arrives, it is not a happy occasion, and can be scary for children. This time however the medical professionals came with the single purpose of rewarding Paulina students for their participation in the Central Oregon "Firebusters" program.

The Firebusters program began in the 1970s as a way to teach fire safety and prevention to families in their homes. The program became popular in the Williamette Valley, and the participation spread to the east side of the Cascades in 1985.

Local news channels run a series of safety and prevention questions on their evening news programing and students are then asked to discuss these with their families, and are also asked to answer questions the following day in their classrooms.

"Firebusters is a fire and life safety program that our Central Oregon Fire Prevention Co-op administers during fire prevention week" said Casey Kump, Deputy Chief with Crook County Fire and Rescue. "It targets all elementary school children kindergarten through fifth grade and their families throughout Central Oregon. Each day of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 10-14, the program covers a different topic, ranging from campfire safety to home escape plans"

The students at the Paulina School were rewarded with the grand prize of a visit from Air Link to have a plaque presented to the school. Every elementary school in Central Oregon participates in the program. The schools who show over 50 percent participation from the students gets put into a drawing for the top prize. This year, there were 15 schools who made it to the final drawing.

The program is making an impact. In fact, just recently there was a house fire in Crook County, two days after the home's children participated in a portion of the Firebusters program. Everyone made it out alive, and escaped injury.

"It is exciting to have the school Firebuster assemblies and we hope the kids discuss the fire and life safety topics with their families" said Kump. "The teachers and principals have been great to work with. Locally, there are a few businesses such as Prineville Dairy Queen and Papa Murphy's Pizza that sponsor the program. They have been instrumental in the program's success."

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