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Children with visual impairments get hands-on experience with emergency vehicles

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OGDEN, Utah – Most kids get excited when they see and hear a fire truck coming, but for kids who are blind, anxiety and fear can build when the sirens start getting closer. First responders with Mountain Star Healthcare were trying to change that Saturday morning.

Children who are blind or have low vision got the chance to learn about emergency vehicles up close. With the use of their hands, they explored a helicopter, ambulance and a fire truck.

“It was really cool,” said Kameron Quaid, a participant of Climb, Touch, Experience, at Ogden Regional Medical Center.

Quaid’s father guided him around the emergency helicopter, while first responders explained each part and what it does. Jerry Phelps, Director of Utah Parents of Blind Children, said the interactive activities help blind children learn about the world and their environment.

“It gives them anxiety when they can't tell where something's coming from, and when they hear all these sirens and stuff, it can be a very intense situation for them,” Phelps said. “It just gives them a chance to get a little bit more comfortable with it.”

Cherlayn Creer has two children who are visually impaired, and she is visually impaired herself. She said the activity allows her children and other children to learn about what first responders do.

“Just meeting some of the people that work in these vehicles helps them to realize they’re real people, they’re kind, they’re going to treat them well,” she said.

“It gives them kind of a visual aspect, where they can’t see it,” said Flight Paramedic Brock Woolsey. “Next time they hear a helicopter, they’ll have a better understanding of what it is and what it feels like and looks like.”

First responders said they’re grateful they had the opportunity to teach kids about saving lives.

“It’s good,” Woolsey said. “It makes us feel like we’re making a difference, kind of explaining it to them and taking that fear factor away from them, because obviously we’re just there to help.”

Utah Parents of Blind Children hosts several activities throughout the year for children who are visually impaired and their families. They also offer support for blind youth as they enter into adulthood. For more information about the group, click here.

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