LIMA — Semi-retired Safety City Officer David Vastano received the Respect for Law Award from the Lima Noon Optimist Club Wednesday.
“We chose to honor Dave Vastano because he was a big part of our Safety City Program for many, many years,” said Susan Fantz, Lima Noon Optimist Club president. “That is our big project. We support and maintain Safety City.”
Vastano was very involved in the renovations of Safety City and running it during his 14 years as the officer running the program, said Ken Hall, Optimist Club member and project manager at Safety City while renovations were being completed. Hall said Vastano wasn’t only there when children were going through the classes and the academy but could be found mowing the lawn and doing other upkeep, as well.
During the renovations, Vastano also made suggestions on new programs and what the Survive Alive House needed to make its crisis training realistic. The house is a full size two-story house designed to be like the home many children in the region might be growing up in. This provides an environment suited for teaching young children how to react if a fire started in their home or when severe weather was approaching.
Vastano said the intention of the Survive Alive House, and other programs such as the RAD Kids defense classes, is to not only train children how to respond to crisis situations, but to make the training as realistic as possible to ensure that they wouldn’t freeze from panic in the event of an actual incident.
He didn’t just want children to remember the training of Safety City, but also fondly remember the experience, Vastano said.
“I think the main thing is, I wanted every kid that came through Safety City to not only learn but enjoy what they were doing when they came through,” Vastano said. “In my mind, I always wanted to make it a magical place for kids to go.”
Vastano currently works as the security supervisor at the Lima Public Library, a job he said he enjoys.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.