A variety of groups and organizations promoted public safety during the annual National Night Out event Tuesday evening at Tomah’s Winnebago Park.
Melanie Marshall, event organizer and school resource officer with the Tomah Police Department, said what she likes about the event is the number of different organizations that show up to interact with the public.
“I’ve met new people that I never would have met before just working in the city of Tomah,” she said. “I also think it’s great for the public to come out and see and talk to all of these people and just see that they’re not those scary people and interact with them.”
Attendee Nikki Killoran said she and her family have been attending NNO since they moved to Tomah in 2013 because “it’s always a great time. The kids absolutely loved it.”
“We think it’s amazing,” she said. “There are a lot of different safety (services) as well as the different community service programs that the kids can get involved in throughout the year ... it’s neat to see the different health and service agencies out there.”
Fellow attendee Sue Badger agreed.
“I think it’s awesome; it’s a good way to show off all the community services,” she said. “It’s fun − great for little kids because there are so many fun things to learn about, and they have a lot of handouts and interactive games and all that good stuff.”
This was the first year P.E.R. Towing and Repair participated in NNO. P.E.R. employee Tony Lee said NNO is a great idea because it allows groups to discuss safety issues with the public.
At NNO, Lee said the business is promoting the Move Over or Slow Down campaign, which is aimed at drivers reminding them to either move over on roadways when they see a pulled over vehicle, tow truck, police/state troopers and emergency service personnel or to slow down when passing.
“That’s part of the reason why we’re here doing this,” he said. “It’s not just for us tow truck drivers, but it’s for the police officers, paramedics, EMTs, fire trucks, etc. At any time we’re on the side of the road trying to hook up a semi and somebody doesn’t move over ... there’s inches between you and that vehicle driving by at 70-80 mph.”
The campaign began several years ago and is gaining more traction, Lee said.
“We’re trying to push it out there because more people have their cell phones in their hand; there’s inattentive driving and speeding and nobody moves over,” he said. “There’s one tow-truck driver killed every five or six days across the country.”
Oakdale Area First Responders made a return visit to NNO. Its members attend every year to promote community awareness and to recruit, said Noel Tiarks, a first responder.
“We’re letting the kids see what we do, see a little of what our trucks look like vs. the ambulance,” she said. “We don’t transport, but we try to be the first ones there, but we’re not always, we may just be the ones that are extra to help the ambulance crew.”
Tiarks enjoys attending NNO.
“It’s great for the kids. It has so many different areas of interest that the kids don’t get to see normally,” she said. “There’s just a little bit of everything going on. It’s just a fun night for the kids, and it’s enjoyable to interact with them.”