By Tony Parra
The Portales emergency and health departments want to send a message to Roosevelt County residents on Saturday. That message is to learn helpful tips which could save a life.
Portales will have its first Fire and Injury Reduction Safety Training program from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday at the Memorial Building. The Portales Fire Department, Police Department, Community Services Center and Health Department officials will conduct safety training for Roosevelt County residents.
“Thirty minutes of your time could save the life of a member of your family,” Portales Fire Marshal Mike Running said. “We are offering many classes from poison safety to fall prevention for seniors. Area health and safety professionals will be putting on classes.”
Portales Fire Department officials will have a fire safety house, which has features to show participants what they need to do in case of a fire. They will also be conducting training classes on car seat safety, bicycle safety, rollerblading safety and skateboard safety.
“We’re really excited about the program,” Portales Police Department Capt. Lonnie Berry said. “It’s going to be a great benefit to a lot of people. We’re going to be teaching a course on car seat safety. We’re going to talk to parents about what car seats are legal or if their kid has outgrown their car seat.”
Berry said last year the Portales Police Department was able to raise more than $1,000 through a car safety clinic. He said the money went to pay for car seats for those who couldn’t afford them.
Berry said Portales police department officials will also be fingerprinting during the program. He said it is vital for parents to fingerprint their children.
“It was crucial to us in the Amber Robinson case,” Berry said. “We were able to use a fingerprint card from when Amber was in grade school. This was all possible because her mother chose to have her daughter fingerprinted. We used it to identify (Robinson). We saw how important it was in her case.”
Vonnie Banther, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, said senior volunteers will be helping with a wide variety of training courses. Banther said RSVP formed a partnership with the Portales Fire Department almost a year ago. She said one of the RSVP volunteers, Carl Wilson, helps with installing smoke alarms for seniors.
“It’s all about networking,” Banther said. “We network to fill needs in the community. The fire department donated first aid kits and smoke alarms for our seniors. It’s been a team effort.”
The rate of unintentional injury deaths from 1996 to 1998 in New Mexico is higher than the national average according to the New Mexico Department of Health in four categories per 100,000 population: Motor vehicle accidents, falls, poisons and firearm deaths. Unintentional injury deaths were the leading cause of death for the ages of five to 34. New Mexico ranks first in the nation for all injury deaths.
There were eight motor vehicle accident deaths, six deaths by firearms, two deaths by poison, two deaths by fire, two deaths by falls and one drowning from 1991 to 2001 in Roosevelt County, according to the Department of Health.