Burton Fire, Beaufort County School District receive award

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On October 10, the Burton Fire District and Beaufort County School District received an award and spread the word to firefighters across the nation about their successful collaboration on the JACOB Kit program.

The Burton Fire District and Beaufort County School District, for their partnership on the JACOB Kit program, received the Firehouse Magazine Thomas Carr Community Service Award at the annual national Firehouse Expo conference in Nashville, which was attended by firefighters from across the nation.

During the weeklong conference, fire district and school district personnel also presented a class and manned an informational booth teaching other firefighter how to partner with the schools and start their own JACOB Kit program.

“I wanted those at the conference to realize that if their child is injured during a school shooting, that the teacher becomes the first responder, and we need the training and resources to act,” said Angela Byrne, a reading interventionist at Broad River Elementary. “Having this kit empowers teachers in knowing that they can protect their babies, and not have to possibly watch a child bleed to death in front of them. They can now do something.”

Burton Fire Captain Daniel Byrne told conference attendees about the importance of fire departments having a voice in the national discussion on school violence. 

“Right now, the focus is on preventing and reacting to an event and planning for more resource officers and security,” Byrne said. “That’s an important part of the solution, but we also need solid plans for after the event, and treating the wounded. That’s where fire departments come in, that’s out area of expertise”

Firehouse Magazine Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews, who has followed the JACOB Kit program since its debut at Broad River Elementary, stated that the school district and fire district partnering together and combining their professional expertise to create a program to save lives are the reasons they were selected as one of four other programs to receive the award. Matthews also cited the spread of the JACOB Kit program to other communities and fire departments across the country as another reason for the selection.

The Thomas Carr Community Service Award is named after the former Charleston, South Carolina, Fire Chief, who assumed command of the department after the 2007 Super Sofa Store fire which killed nine Charleston firefighters. The award is presented to those who not only get involved in community service activities, but also to engage in activities that truly give back and elevate a community in a way that can change lives. Ann Carr, the wife of the late Chief Thomas Carr, was on hand to present the award.

The JACOB Kit program involves placing small trauma kits in every school classroom, along with providing annual teacher training on how to control critical bleeding. The program was named after Jacob Hall, a six-year-old Townville, S.C., student who was wounded in a 2016 shooting at his elementary school. Jacob died three days later as a result of massive blood loss. 

In 2017, Broad River Elementary School piloted the program, which is funded by local grants and donations, and was well received by teachers and staff. Since its implementation, with help from other local fire departments, the Jacob Kit program has grown to include both public and private schools across the county. This year, led by County Councilman Michael Covert, Beaufort County has also placed kits in all county buildings.

Burton Fire Chief Harry Rountree stated that while he is proud the fire district has been given the award, he stressed that this is truly a community award. “We started the program, but fire departments throughout Beaufort County took the program into their schools as well, and it’s been the citizens of this county that have made it all possible through donations,” he said. “This really has been a community supported and driven program, and we thank all our neighboring fire departments and citizens for their efforts.”

County fire official state there are still classrooms in the school district without the kits, and they are still seeking donations and sponsorships to place a kit in every class. Anyone wishing to donate to the program, or to sponsor a class or school, can email safetyed@burtonfd.org or visit https://www.stopthebleedbluffton.com/.

Above: Receiving the award, Burton Fire District Captain Daniel Byrne, Robert Daus Jr of Liberty Artworks, Firehouse Magazine Editor and Chief Peter Matthews, Beaufort County School District teacher Angela Byrne, and Ann Carr, wife of the late Thomas Carr.

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