Dormant in recent times, a program that seeks to spark an interest in firefighting and emergency medical technician work is burning bright again.
Capital City Fire/Rescues’s Cadet Program returned after a pause, allowing Juneau high school students to practice the basics of the job over several days each month.
The program, which has run before on a more limited basis in the past, will go through the school year, said Shale Palmer, a firefighter/EMT who’s coordinating the program.
“We started the program Oct. 2. I’ve been getting it organized over the summer,” Palmer said in a phone interview. “They’ve done it in the past. I think they’ve done it twice. (Assistant Chief Sam Russell) used to run the program, I believe he created it.”
The program currently has 19 high school students enrolled, Palmer said, many more than the program’s previous capacity of eight.
“They’re all kind of interested and figuring out what they want to do after high school,” Palmer said. “As long as they’re taking high school classes, they’re eligible. They need to be passing.”
According to a CCFR social media post, interested students can get an application from the Downtown Fire Station or from their high school counselors. The program is as much about the EMT side of the house as the firefighting, Palmer said.
“It’s not just physical stuff. Just because you’re not extremely strong right now doesn’t mean you can’t be useful. We’re doing a lot of EMS stuff. We’re doing other things,” Palmer said. “We’re not necessarily trying to get firefighters out of it. We’re trying to get a good relationship with the community and help students figure out what they want to do.”
The program runs the first three Saturdays of every month, from 9 a.m.-noon, Palmer said. The program will run through the school year but likely not the summer.
“If they love it, we would be happy to do it more than three times a month,” Palmer said. “But we’re just putting our feelers out and trying not to bore the kids.”
Some students are joining to get in better shape, Palmer said. The program covers a variety of topics, from putting on fire gear in under a minute, to exercise, to emergency medical service basics.
“They’re doing well. We did CPR last Saturday and that was so exciting to see. At the end of it you just saw them going to work. You’d be proud to have them on a scene,” Palmer said. “They’re just as interested in EMS as Fire. CPR is just so important to get them going through right off the bat. The more people that know CPR the better.”
A number of CCFR personnel have gone from the Cadet Program to becoming volunteer firefighters to permanent positions, Palmer said.
“It’s definitely a good route. If you’re a cadet, that can transition easily into a volunteer. And if you’re a volunteer, that can transition easily into career staff,” Palmer said. “We’re not necessarily trying to get firefighters out of it. We’re trying to get a good relationship with the community and help students figure out what they want to do.”
For more information, the social media post said, email Shale.Palmer@juneau.org or call CCFR at 907-586-5322.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.