TAKE A LOOK — Port Neches-Groves elementary students explore emergency vehicles for land, air and sea

Published 11:44 am Friday, March 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

PORT NECHES — Several of the first grade students in Allison Gonzales’ Ridgewood Elementary School class had multiple things in common with Harley.

For starters, she loves to play hide-and-seek. And it just so happens her favorite food is a hot dog.

The search and rescue K-9 with the Port Arthur Police Department was at Port Neches-Groves High School Friday morning for First Responder Day. As class by class from Woodcrest and Ridgewood elementary schools circled around, handler Chad Morrison educated students on the blood hound’s job, as well as interesting facts about her as the students petted her.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Harley and Morrison were one of many first responders on site, joined by fire departments, police departments, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Public Safety, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Acadian Ambulance Services and more.

Children toured patrol units, boats, SWAT vehicles, medical helicopters, ambulances and even tried on firefighter gear.

“They’re having a blast,” said Lacy Elam, second grade teacher at Ridgewood Elementary School, as her students interacted with the Groves Fire Department.

“They came out with all of the different vehicles,” said Kylie Janeaux, a sophomore with the high school Criminal Justice Club. “They have aircraft, water, SWAT, they have a bloodhound and a lot of firetrucks and such. They’re showing the little kids what they can do with these and introducing them to it so it’s not big and scary.”

And that, said DPS Trooper Dearesai Thaggard, is a main part of the mission.

“We’re out here telling children what we do, letting them see they lights, having fun with them and interacting with them to let them know we’re not the bad guy,” he said. “That’s very important. If anything happens, we want them to feel safe with calling us so we can be there.”