Originally created 09/12/99

Fun fair encourages calling 911



A fierce lyricist for a day, 52-year-old Granny Rapper delivered rhymes Saturday touting the efficiency of Augusta's 911 Center staff.

"911 is the place to call, because we are on the ball. If you find yourself in a fix. Call us. Call us quick," rhymed employee Jessalyn Estes, with six 911-Center pompon-toting cheerleaders to back her. "The rap is something that gets the kids' attention. When you put it into something that they understand, they'll remember."

Celebrating Augusta-Richmond County 911 Day -- a day recognized nationally since 1957 -- several local firefighters and three sheriff's deputies perched area youth atop police motorcycles and fire trucks.

The youth were even encouraged to set off blaring sirens so they could get a taste of the city's emergency response process.

A miniature fire engine sped around the Taylor Street center, with a siren wailing slightly louder than the day's youthful crew.

"I like riding on the truck," said aspiring policeman Victor Hudson, 10. "It goes fast."

"I got to sit in the front and ring the bell," said Kenny Small, 10. "And the firefighter was telling us what it was like doing his job. I think I could do that too if I tried."

Crews showed the children tools of lifesaving, said Daleecia Armstrong.

"And I want to be a nurse," she said. "They show you the gloves that you use and everything."

The fun doesn't overshadow the seriousness of the 911 Center operations, said supervisor Lt. Debra Barley. Tours of the facility and explanations of the emergency response process also were a part of the event.

"We feel that once we show the public our system, they will have a better overview of what it entails and we can help them more efficiently," Lt. Barley said, adding that the center hoped to dispel myths about reporting an incident.

"If they are calling in a shooting, we want them to know that we ask for the callers address, not so that the deputies will go to the anonymous callers' home. But, we want to go to the area so that we can hear what the caller's hearing."

REACH

Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.