SOMERSET – On Saturday a number of children from the Somerset area got a fun lesson on safety from Mary Harris, officer in charge at the Somerset Post Office, with help from some local firefighters and EMTs, the village police chief and his K9 officer Dallas, Smokey the Bear, and Samantha the Postal Safety Dog.

Harris told The Perry County Tribune afterward that she got the idea for the event from the focus on safety in her workplace.

“Every day at the Post Office we talk about safety; it’s just what we do,” Harris explained in an email. “So for a change I thought it would be fun to focus on children and remind them how important safety is. Having three children of my own, I know this is a constant focus, because when children are little they don’t always think about being safe; they just think about the ‘now.’”

Harris told those in attendance Saturday that the shortened version of Samantha’s name, Sam, stands for Safety Always Matters. She shared a few stories about how Samantha promotes safety every day, from reminding a post office employee who’s mopping the floor to post a “wet floor” sign, to reminding a little boy to always use the crosswalk when crossing the street.

Firefighter Jim Mickey, with unspoken support from Smokey the Bear, reminded the children of the dangers of matches and lighters, and of how important it is to completely extinguish a campfire before leaving a campsite.

Somerset Police Chief Matt May introduced his new K9 officer Dallas, a 16-month-old German Shepherd who recently took over from Dolly, a K9 officer who retired at age 10.

May explained that Dallas can sniff out narcotics and also do tracking work, and he demonstrated how the dog can help with “catching bad guys I’m too slow to chase,” by having Dallas apprehend a volunteer who was wearing a “bite sleeve” to protect his forearm.

Children also got to investigate a fire truck and its equipment, and had the chance to win prizes in a raffle.

Harris said she wanted to demonstrate to kids that staying safe takes a collective effort.”

“By bringing together the first responders, the firefighters, EMT’s, K-9 unit, Smokey the Bear and Samantha the Postal Safety Dog, it shows the children that in a community we all work together because Safety Always Matters!” she said.

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