I bet you’ve never seen dogs wearing swimming goggles.
Two black and white Newfoundland dogs wore goggles Saturday at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. They weren’t ordinary glasses. They were custom made for dogs. A couple had printed in large letters: “Helicopter Jump.”
“It’s true,” said manager George Abraham of Scranton. “Oakley is an American Water Rescue Canine Academy Certified Level 3 dog” and part of his training was to work from helicopters.
The two dogs were among a crowd of safety-themed rides on Community Safety Day at the park.
The four-hour event, which drew several hundred people, was sponsored by the Carbon County Kids Zone along with State Senator David Argall, State Representative Doyle Heffley and Carbon County Commissioners.
Safety Day was an annual event before COVID. Due to the pandemic, there was a two-year hiatus.
Lots to see and do, especially for children. Two medical helicopters landed and showed their equipment to the visitors, numerous fire departments had apparatus, equipment and brochures.
A police officer conducted simulated sobriety field tests, the Lehighton Ambulance Association had free supplies as well as showing people the proper method of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Community Safety Day was free. Children were signed in as soon as they walked in and given a tote bag to go pick up the crayon booklets, coloring books, educational literature and even sunglasses.
Helicopters and fire trucks usually seem to draw the most spectators at such events, but the two Newfoundlands seemed to have stolen the show when huge crowds gathered on the beach for their water rescue demonstrations.
Oakley was the older of the two dogs. The other, Kelby, is still a pup and was not involved except as educational support (as well as petting) for the curious.
Oakley conducted three rounds of salvage operations.
In the first. she swam about 40 yards out to sea towards someone who pretended to be in trouble. Oakley grabbed an object the person was holding and pulled it to shore.
At another demonstration, a boat with three people was in trouble. Abraham led Oakley to the boat, wrapped his muscular jaws around a rope, and pulled the boat effortlessly into shallow water. The boat was a water rescue division vessel of the Lehighton Fire Department.
Eventually Oakley was taken out into deeper water in the boat. On command, the dog jumped into the water to “rescue” two people. The trio formed a human triangle, and the rescue dog led them to safety.
“That’s amazing,” said Ryan Jones of Forest Inn. “I’ve heard about Newfies and his rescue capabilities, but this is the first time I’ve seen him. They are remarkable dogs; very impressive.”
For Safety Day visitors, there was plenty to impress.
The two medical helicopters were LifeFlight from Lehigh Valley Hospital and a helicopter from Geisinger-St. Luke. The flight crew and paramedics answered questions and allowed the youths onto the craft.
St. Luke’s Hospital Center also had staff at a booth where they demonstrated the application of arm tourniquets. Stephanie Noll, one of the employees present, also had free items for visitors such as T-shirts, Band-Aids, COVID-19 test kits and coloring books.
PathStone Head Start had a booth promoting sun protection. In addition to safety literature, they handed out free pairs of sunglasses.
The Lehighton Ambulance Association had a vinyl mannequin for visitors to view a CPR demonstration. Dawn Benner, an ambulance attendant, gave away coloring books, lanyards and other items. She even offered Narcan to adults in case they had to provide emergency treatment.
“Anything we can do to try to help the community, we will do it,” he said.
Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joseph Schatz administered field sobriety tests to the children, making them wear special glasses as they tried to walk in a straight line.
Carbon County District Attorney Michael Greek said of the Safety Day event: “It’s great for the community. It’s good for young people to see what lifeguards and security personnel are doing every day. Hopefully, it will help keep our communities safe.”
“I am delighted to see it back after the COVID disruption,” said Senator Argall. “I think the kids that are here are learning something and having fun.”
Carbon County Commissioner Rocky Ahner said: “We actually had a previous drill at our county office building. It went well, but people took it lightly. We are doing this in case there is some kind of emergency.”
He said: “There are two types of lives you want to save in an emergency. One is from the public. Two are the first to respond who are coming to save you. We want everyone to support their first responders.”
Oakley, a Newfoundland water rescue dog, wears goggles before a rally Saturday during Community Safety Day at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. RON GOWER/SPECIAL FOR THE NEWS OF THE TIMES
Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joe Schatz performs a mock field sobriety test on Ryder Kuhla during Community Safety Day Saturday at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. View a gallery of photos from the event at tnonline.com RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Dawn Benner, left, of the Lehighton Ambulance Association, watches as Khloe Heckman of Lansford performs CPR on a dummy during Community Safety Day at Mauch Chunk Lake Park. Looking on are, from left, Avalee Alves, Sebrina Scheffmeyer and Lea Alves, all from Lansford. RON GOWER/SPECIAL FOR THE NEWS OF THE TIMES