FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A dozen high school students from three different school districts arrived in Fairbanks last week to try their hand at rescue training. They will take home the lessons they learned to their respective nine villages, and will be some of the only emergency responders in their areas.
The students were part of Camp Kick Ash, a program for rural students to receive first responder training and take home the knowledge and put it to use. The dozen received certificates for Emergency Trauma Technician in Aniak before heading to Fairbanks for more hands-on experiential training.
Last Wednesday, the students went to the North Star Volunteer Fire Department, where they were taught the technique of forcible entry into a building. They took turns breaking into a door using a halligan tool.
Capt. Hunter McConnel of the department taught a few different ways to bust into a door of a burning building, stressing safety and staying clear of the fire.
Kristy Wise, 17, of Tuluksuk, took a turn using an axe as a hammer against the halligan to budge the tool into the door's lock. She said the repeated hitting was kind of hard.
"My hand is tired," she said.
She and her partner Dolly Simon, 18, of Huslia, are interested in first responder care and hope to return for another camp in April to get their Emergency Medical Training I certification. They said they were enjoying their week so far, getting hands-on training from firefighters around Fairbanks.
"All the local fire departments, when the kids come up here, open their doors," said John George, program head of Fire Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Community and Technical College.
The kids learned to extract victims from cars using the jaws of life, to perform ice rescues using bright orange ice rescue suits and to escape smoke filled buildings, among other things. They also toured many of Fairbanks' emergency response buildings.
Erich Kuball, an instructor for the camp, said the structured routine appeals to a lot of the students, and for many, it becomes something they want to pursue a career in.
"They work all day," Kuball said. "They're always doing something that's educational or physical."
The program originated in Aniak with the Kuspuk School District, but since has expanded to allowing students from other villages to participate. In Aniak, the fire department is mainly comprised of high school students who have received training called the Dragon Slayers. They help train members of Camp Kick Ash.
George said the purpose of the program is to "Give them something they're passionate about. They can see success in that."
Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com