ANKENY, Iowa – The Ankeny Fire Department is hosting its first Special Needs open house for people with disabilities.
The idea to have a separate night for families with disabilities came when community members saw a need for it.
Ankeny Fire Department Public Education Coordinator and Firefighter Karen Peters said, “They really are a high-risk group as far as fire and fire safety. We want to be able to give them and their families the extra time they need to develop plans.”
The open house allows families to take the time and go over emergency plans multiple times with first responders.
In addition, people learn about the dangers when it comes to house poisons, different types of smoke alarms and alert devices for people who are hard of hearing or deaf, CPR training, how to use a fire extinguisher and more.
Peters said parents will be able to try on masks firefighters wear to show children that the first responders are friendly and trustworthy.
“We don’t want them to hide from us. We want them to know that we are there to help, and so if there is a fire when we come in we don’t want them running away. We want them going towards us knowing this is a friendly person. This person is here to help me. I need to go to them. They are going to help me get out safely,” Peters said.
There will be quiet sensory friendly areas throughout the open house.
Peters said other community fire departments and the Iowa Department of Public Health will be there to educate families on safety.
The Special Needs Open House is free from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Ankeny Fire Department Headquarters. It is located at 120 NW Ash Drive, Ankeny.
The department will host its regular open house Wednesday night from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
The events fall during National Emergency Medical Services Week.