SEP 18, 2015 04:50 AM PDT

Stop, Drop and...Drool?

Fire safety is serious business especially in schools. While many families have designed escape plans and meeting places in case of a fire, it’s a very different situation when teachers have to get possibly hundreds of children out of a building safely. That’s why fire drills are so important in schools. Practicing what to do, where to go, and who to listen to for directions helps prepare children and in an emergency they will do what they have been taught.
 Black labs are the stars of the show in this fire safety program
One problem however is that fire safety and drills can become boring and they don’t often keep the attention of young children. Jeff Owens, a 30 year veteran firefighter and paramedic from Indianapolis wanted to see if he could find a better way to teach children about fire safety.  In 1995 he started The Kasey Program. Kasey was a black Labrador retriever trained as a search and rescue dog for Wayne Township Department and also certified as a therapy dog. Kasey would go into buildings looking for survivors, even leading some residents out of a fire or smoke-filled building. Kasey was also a fixture at burn camps and hospitals, visiting children who had been badly burned and being a comfort to them.
 
Kasey came to Jeff Owens through a family connection. In an interview with the Hendricks County Flyer, Jeff  said, “We lost a nephew to a brain tumor and I grew up having dogs, but when we lost my nephew, his dog was ready to have pups, so my wife wanted a black lab to remember him. The original Kasey was brought into the family and we started teaching her obedience and stop, drop and roll. Being a firefighter, I was asked to speak to my child’s class and I took the dog with me; the kids were mesmerized.” 
 
And so began the Kasey program. Brought first just to local schools in Indiana, it has grown tremendously since the early days. During the first three years, Jeff and Kasey brought the program to about 3,000 children each year. When a local fire security company hired Owens to teach people how to use fire extinguishers, they agreed that the program with Kasey had to continue as well and they began sponsoring it.
 
The dog that started it all, Kasey, passed away, but Owens now has  three other black labs carrying on the safety legacy. KD, the most senior dog is 14 years old and still goes on tour, reliably being put through the paces by Jeff, much to the delight of the kids and even the teachers that see the demonstration. Alongside KD is a four year old black Lab named Kohl.  The baby of the troupe, Kali, at only 14 weeks old is still a solid performer.  
 
Owens says that in the course of a year he and the dogs are able to travel around the country and educate close to 400,000 people. The dogs know how to show children to check a door for heat, how to crawl low along the floor to dodge smoke and of course, their signature “Stop, drop and roll” move. 
 
Jeff also incorporates music in his program to help kids remember fire safety tips. In an interview with USAToday, he said “I can prevent a firefighter from having to pull a child out,” Owens says.  “And I know how traumatizing it is to the firefighters, let alone the trauma sustained by the families.  So that’s what drives me to go out and teach as much as I do.” 

Check out the video to see the Kasey Program in action

 
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
DEC 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 10, 2018
Russian Scientists Describe a Newly-Discovered Sauropod
With as much excavating as paleontologists do, it’s no surprise that they’re always happening upon new fossilized discoveries that tell untold...
DEC 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 12, 2018
Dracula Ant's Bite Recognized as the Fastest Animal Movement on Record
Researchers are astounded after discovering what they claim to be the fastest-known animal movement on record. The findings, recently uncovered by research...
DEC 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 13, 2018
Biochemical Antifreezes: How Do They Work?
How do fish survive in the Arctic ocean where the temperature is under zero degree Celsius most of the year? They rely on a class of polypeptides called th...
DEC 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2018
Newly Discovered Species of Dinosaur Was Related to Triceratops
Although dinosaurs don’t walk the Earth with us today, they left behind a plethora of fossilized bones and remnants that can help tell their story an...
DEC 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 20, 2018
A Computational Tool for Unraveling the Genetics of Complex Traits
Genetic research has moved beyond the single mutation that causes a disease. Scientists want to know more about traits that are influenced by multiple genes....
DEC 29, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 29, 2018
Fish ear bones track coal ash contamination
Coal ash contamination is a public health threat across the United States. Coal ash refers to the toxic remains of coal burning in power plants. The chemic...
Loading Comments...