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News Release    

April 30, 2003

County Executive Steinhaus Announces
Red E. Fox Program

Dutchess County Executive, William R. Steinhaus, today introduced the “9-1-1 for KIDS Program” to kindergartners at the Traver Road Primary School in Pleasant Valley. This creative program features 9-1-1 super hero Red E. Fox whose job it is to teach KIDS how to use the emergency 9-1-1 system.

The “9-1-1 for KIDS” program, targets children from pre-school to 2nd grade, and makes learning about 9-1-1 fun, easy and memorable while getting young children to understand the proper use of the emergency 9-1-1 system. The program teaches 3 basic concepts about dialing 911 for emergencies: WHEN to call, HOW to call and WHAT to say. A 9-1-1 dispatcher from the County’s Department of Emergency Response accompanied by mascot Red E. Fox is introduced to the class and provides a brief explanation of what “9-1-1” is. The presentation also includes a video, activity sheets, take-home cards and a classroom poster and stickers for each of the children.

In making the announcement Steinhaus explained, “Twenty percent of 9-1-1 calls received are hang-ups, pranks or silence. This program is intended to educate young children about 9-1-1 leading to a reduction in the misuse of emergency resources and creating more effective reporting of emergencies. These same children grow up to be responsible users of 9-1-1.” The County Executive credited Public Safety Dispatcher Linda Mihans as being instrumental in developing the program. Steinhaus added, “we are fortunate to have very talented and dedicated professional staff at our E-911 center, their commitment to public safety and our community is exemplified by their desire to deliver this program to children throughout our county.” Ms. Mihans added, "The dispatching staff sees, on a daily basis, the need for public education about 9-1-1. This program is a major step in our goal of working with the residents of the county to create a more efficient 9-1-1 system. We are very excited about the program, and look forward to introducing Red E. Fox to the children."

Emergency Response Coordinator DeWitt Sagendorph, who oversees the program for Dutchess County added, “Many of these false calls received are made by children. Every single one of these calls must be investigated by emergency personnel, which can take police or firefighters away from real emergencies. Our goal is to provide 70 classroom presentations this year as well as other public appearances such as parades and community events.”

“It has been our experience, through the annual Fire Prevention Week activities here at Traver Road Primary and the Joseph D’Aquanni West Road Intermediate School, that the students are the best means of getting fire prevention and safety messages to their parents. I see the Red E. Fox program as another means of getting information on how to properly use 911 into the homes," said Chief Guy Donegan, Pleasant Valley Fire Department.

The program was created in 1991, when the San Jose (CA) Police Dept. sought help from the California chapter of the National Emergency Number Association in the development of 911 educational materials for children. Additional agencies expressed an interest in the project, including the California Dept. of Education, public safety agencies and the State of Texas 9-1-1 Commission. In 1994, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Tony Urbano Productions signed onto the project team to create a new 9-1-1 mascot that would deliver critical 911 information to both children and adults in a fun and memorable manner. The result is the national, non-profit organization, 9-1-1 for KIDS.

For more information on Dutchess County’s 9-1-1 for KIDS Program call the Dutchess County Emergency Response Department, 486-2080, Monday — Friday, 8:00 am — 4:00 pm.

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