Gilbert crossing guards brush up on traffic safety SanTan Sun News

Gilbert crossing guards brush up on traffic safety

August 19th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Gilbert crossing guards brush up on traffic safety
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By COLLEEN SPARKS, Managing Editor

 

While Gilbert and other East Valley students started hitting the books again last week, many crossing guards were brushing up on their skill sets to steer children to safety.

Nearly 200 guards participated in a training that the Maricopa Association of Governments sponsored at Dobson High School in Mesa.

All K-8 schools are responsible for hiring and training guards and defining where and when they need to be on duty.

Safety experts offered participants advice on keeping themselves healthy while demonstrating the correct ways to guide students across crosswalks and explaining traffic laws.

Speakers stressed the need to keep safe in order to protect students.

“Before you step out on that curb, I want you to stop, look around,” said Jean DeStories, Mesa Fire & Medical Department fire and life safety education specialist. “People are not watching you guys out there. Take care of yourself. I am incredibly impressed with the job you are doing.”

DeStories told the crowd to remember the acronym SAFE. Noting “S” and “A” stand for “shirt” and “arms,” she urged them to wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect themselves from the sun.

The “F” should remind them to put sunscreen on their faces and the “E” means everyone needs to be protected. She also explained the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

DeStories recommended they carry plastic gloves to protect themselves from blood, vomit and other bodily fluids. She said carrying Band-Aids for children could be useful as well.

She said crossing guards could handle some students’ health problems, such as scraped knees, on the site, but more serious issues, including a child getting hit by a car, warrant a call to 9-1-1. However, she said “very few calls” come into 9-1-1 for youths injured in East Valley crosswalks.

The crossing guards also watched a video, “Guardians of the Future,” that showed appropriate ways to get kids across crosswalks in different scenarios.

The video explained what types of signs crossing guards need to put near crosswalks.

A speaker urged guards to ensure students walk “quickly,” and to make eye contact with drivers. The video also demonstrated the differences between yellow and white crosswalks and how to raise the “Stop” paddle.

Both the video and speakers stressed that crossing guards are not allowed to direct traffic.

“This is where I see the biggest problem with crossing guards,” Mesa Police Department Officer Michael Kuntz said. “Don’t wave vehicles through. You’re not out there to enforce the law.”

Don Cross, Phoenix school safety coordinator and co-producer of the video, engaged crossing guards in a demonstration on stage as adults pretended to be children.

Many guards at the session said they love working with children and teens but that drivers often do not slow down to the posted speeds in school zones.

They said many drivers talk on their cell phones and some have even driven through crosswalks or crept up into them.

Erika Hunter, a new crossing guard at Falcon Hill Elementary School in Mesa, called the hands-on lesson was “great.”

“It was a little nervous but it was fun,” Hunter said.

Theresa Ricks, a crossing guard at Whittier Elementary School in Mesa, also found the workshop helpful.

“I learned how to keep the kids safe,” Ricks said. “You’re watching out for your life and the life of the kids. It’s not easy directing kids.”

Jennifer Gunnell, a crossing guard at Oak Tree Elementary School in Gilbert, said the job is “stressful with the traffic but I love being able to see the kids.”

“We do have quite a few (drivers) who are very impatient and don’t seem to care there are kids around,” Gunnell said. “There have been a couple of times I’ve wanted to hit the car with my sign.”

Ryan Brown, a crossing guard at Ida Redbird Elementary School in Mesa, said he enjoys being a crossing guard because of the children and attending the workshop was important as “a lot of laws can change really quickly.”

“I pulled a kid back one time when a car ran a red light,” Brown said. “That’s the one time I was a little on edge about it.”

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