Beyond Paw Patrol: Getting to Know Real Emergency Responders

Emergency responder helping preschooler

As much as we try to shield our children from news headlines that may be upsetting, natural disasters such as the recent tornadoes in Texas are reminders that life can be unpredictable.  Emergency situations can be scary for children. As parents and educators, we can help to prepare them should the unexpected happen.  

Introducing children to emergency responders is one way we can help to de-mystify them and make children feel more comfortable and prepared. At Spanish Schoolhouse, the month of October is a perfect time to do this!  

The Heroes in our Community

October is Community Helpers Month, when we focus on the important roles of helpers in our community.  Students learn about some of the workers who are essential to our daily lives, such as doctors, dentists, librarians, veterinarians, recycling workers, and more!  

A big highlight is when we bring in first responders like fire fighters, police officers, paramedics, and EMTs!  They love to show off their gear and their vehicles, ambulances, and fire engines, but most importantly, to talk to the children about what they do. 

Quote from Fred Rogers about finding helpers

Teaching Little Ones About Safety

As Mr. Rogers often said, “Look for the helpers.”  Our goal is to help our students feel comfortable with first responders and to recognize that these are people who they can trust to help them in an emergency. 

Introducing kids to different types of emergency workers gives us a chance to talk in a safe and calm manner about potentially scary situations. With real-life visits from first responders, they get to see and touch the equipment and ask questions. Our guests talk about things they do to help when people are in trouble.  They also share security measures that  families should have in place and how to reach responders in case of an emergency.

We don’t just teach about emergency preparedness in October though!  Throughout the year we also discuss how to dial 911 and review what situations that could be considered emergencies.  We encourage parents to work on this at home, too! has some handy tips and questions to help children prepare for a 911 call, should they ever need to make one.

At school, we practice drills for fire, severe weather, and lock-down situations so students feel comfortable with these procedures. We take these opportunities to review what to do in each case and to answer their many questions!  It’s important for kindergarteners (and younger students, if possible) to learn their phone numbers and addresses, so we emphasize this in class.

Learning and Preparing Outside the Classroom

At home and out in the community, parents can find other ways to connect with the heroes that serve our community.  

  • Look for events like “Touch-a-Truck” days hosted by local fire departments.  A fire station can also be the setting for a very memorable children’s birthday party!  Check with your nearest station to see if they offer these opportunities.  
  • Halloween can be a good time for interactions with fire and police personnel who host fall festivals or “Safe Trick-or-Treat” events.  
  • As your children get older, you can involve them in creating a family emergency plan. Here are some tips to get you started:
  • On the tech side, there’s an App called Dial Safe which uses games to help kids memorize 911, their address, and practice talking to dispatchers in mock conversations.

Recognition and Appreciation

Preschooler with police officer and truck

When you see your local first responders, give them a wave or thank them.  Their jobs are far from easy as they work around the clock, rushing to scenes to help complete strangers without thinking twice. Without their service, the world would be a much different place. 

You can set an example for your children by the way you treat these important folks. Here are a few ideas for ways to show them a little appreciation.  Don’t forget to let your children take part in the process!

  • Send a letter of thanks
  • Cook or deliver a meal 
  • Donate to a charity that benefits first responders and fire departments
  • Deliver a gift basket or gift cards during the holidays

Building Trust and Building Dreams!

Preschooler dressed as firefighter

There’s nothing like seeing little faces light up when they see a real bombero hero approaching to high five them!  Exposure to first responders (at school, at events, or just around town) might even inspire your kids to become community heroes some day!  Many an SSH graduate has proclaimed, “Yo quiero ser bombero cuando sea grande” or “Yo quiero ser policía cuando sea grande.”

As we celebrate Community Helpers Month, we hope that by learning about careers that serve others, we can help instill a sense of service in our students.  Their enthusiasm and imaginations come alive when they’re inspired by these careers and it’s a beautiful reflection of their desire to be the helpers of the future!

So, what do you think?