Students explore responder careers

By Mary Clarkin
Hutchinson News – October 18, 2018

Nearly 100 high school juniors and seniors discovered Wednesday how interested they are – or aren’t – in becoming a firefighter or an emergency medical responder.

Hutchinson Community College Fire Science Student Field Day for high school students, now in its 20th year, gives students a close-up look at the professions. Kansas students from as far away as Sharon Springs – less than 20 miles from the Colorado line – sign up for the day. Students don firefighting gear, hold heavy extrication tools and hear from instructors and students at the Fire Science Facility at 3211 East 4th Ave.

Jay VanCoevern, a high school junior in Bennington, said his grandpa is a firefighter in Saline County, and he wants to become a firefighter, too. Kade Stover, a senior at Sacred Heart High School in Salina, also has family members in the profession and said he was almost certain he would choose it, also. Evan Moffitt, a junior at Belle Plaine, said he currently was looking at joining the military but being a firefighter in the service.

Out of 100 participants yearly, said HCC Fire Science instructor Jason Holland, “We’ll get 15 to 20 that will be interested in our program.”

Some students, however, may find opening a car door with a crowbar to extricate a passenger, or straining to pull ropes to rescue a stranded victim not so appealing.

That’s good, too, in the opinion of Amy Weeks, public safety career development coordinator at HCC.

“By the end of the day, they’ve just narrowed their scope,” Weeks said. Realizing what’s not for them is as important as realizing what career fits, in her view.

Most students were boys, but Faith Pruett, a senior at Southeast of Saline USD 306, attended the day with her parents, learning about the jobs of a firefighter and a paramedic. Her mind was not set. “I’m considering it,” she said.

Hutchinson Fire Department firefighter Jeff St. Clair told the students he actually first thought about joining the Marines. At a fire station relying on volunteers, the firefighters expressed a passion for their job. “You could hear it in their voices,” he said.

“Most of our call volume is medical calls,” St. Clair said. Asked what was his worst run, St.Clair described a “very bad car accident” where a woman slid under the dashboard. She was flown to a Wichita hospital and later died.

College students passed along tips to the younger students. HCC sophomore Amir Elbertai recommended students live in a college dorm at the outset, to make some friends.

“Some of my class two years ago were right where you are now and they’re getting ready to graduate,” said Dave Dunagan, with the Wichita Fire Department for 26 years and now with HCC Fire Science.

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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