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Friday, September 2, 2011

09/02/11 Greenwich Historical Society Press Release: Be on the lookout for Everyday Heroes

The Greenwich Historical Society kicks off its next major exhibition, Everyday Heroes: Greenwich First Responders on Wednesday, September 14. The show chronicles the history of Greenwich's Fire, Police and Emergency Medical Services beginning with General Putman, one of Greenwich's "first" first responders who, in 1779, rode to warn of invading British troops and whose image now appears on the Town seal, as well as on Greenwich's Fire and Police Department badges. In today's parlance, the term "first responder" is associated with trained emergency professionals, but originally it meant literally the first person to respond in a crisis.

The exhibition will delve into headline-making Greenwich disasters from 1873 to 2010, such as the Greenwich Avenue conflagration of 1936 and the Mianus River Bridge collapse in 1983, and will look at the way emergency workers responded to these incidents and at how first response protocols have evolved as a result of experience and technology. At the very heart of the exhibition is an exploration of values underlying civic service, collaboration and acts of heroism by ordinary men and women who may be called upon to risk their lives each day. Visitors will be asked to decide in their own minds what qualities define a hero.

Everyday Heroes has been three years in the making. The idea was originally put forth by the Historical Society's Collections Curator Karen Frederick and its former Curator of Library and Archives Anne Young. The Historical Society worked with Greenwich Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services representatives as well as town officials and community focus groups to further hone the show's content. Along with objects, photos and ephemera from the Greenwich Historical Society collection and loans from the collections of the Fire, Police and GEMS Departments, Everyday Heroes will feature interactive elements including a revolving timeline and a hands-on gallery where kids can try on real equipment and learn what it takes to become a first responder. A simulated dispatch center punctuates how "sounding the alarm" has changed over time and includes an opportunity to "make" or "answer" a 911 call.

In the initial stages of this exhibition's development, the Historical Society received planning and development grants from the Connecticut Humanities Council; a subsequent $50,000 grant was given in recognition of the exhibition's educational and community outreach potential. An Exhibition Patrons Council also was established by the Historical Society to solicit funding, and Moffly Media will be the exclusive media sponsor for Everyday Heroes and its adult and family-related programs planned throughout the run of the exhibition. Program themes will include "To the Rescue: Emergency Vehicles Then and Now," which will display new and vintage police cars, ambulances and fire equipment, "Dr. Dog's Pet Safety Day," "Junior Detective Day," special Story Barn programs and more.

Everyday Heroes: Greenwich First Responders

Greenwich Historical Society

September 14, 2011, through August 26, 2012

Storehouse Gallery, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob, CT 06807



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