Disaster Response Students Learn Firefighting Skills

Emily Lu, Editor-in-Chief

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  • Lieutenant Johnson of the Jollyville Fire Department explains how to shut off a propane tank to Anne Hua ’19.

  • A group practices cribbing, where blocks of timber are used to raise a heavy object to rescue a person trapped underneath.

  • Suchi Misra ’19 emerges successfully from the smoke filled room with the baby doll.

  • A firefighter observes as a group crouches down to begin their sweep of the smoke filled room.

  • The other chaperone, Principles of Health Science teacher Nancy Colclasure, helps Kavya Raghavendhran ’19 put on her jacket.

  • A group uses a MegaMover to transport a body onto a backboard.

  • Anne Hua ’19 tightens the straps of the backboard to ensure a safe lift.

  • Firefighter Donovan Carrasco points out where the fire extinguisher should be aimed.

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Students enrolled in the Disaster Response class had the opportunity to visit Jollyville Fire Department on Friday, Oct. 15 and Monday, Oct. 17. They learned some key elements of fire safety and disaster response from the firefighters, and were even given the chance to experience simulations of what their job encompasses.

After covering the basics of fire safety in the classroom as well as a visit from Assistant Chief Brad Landi of the Jollyville Fire Department, students were eager to experience a more hands on style of this unit.

“This was a unique experience for students and they appeared to enjoy what they were learning,” Disaster Response teacher Kathryn Treviño said. “They were given opportunities to practice skills that would have been hard to recreate in the classroom, but which are so important in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) knowledge.”

Once everyone was split among the five stations at the site, each firefighter introduced their topic and what they would learn at this particular session. An anticipated spot featured a simulation of a smoke filled room, where groups had to crawl around with virtually no visibility to rescue a doll. Each group member donned protective firefighting jackets, pants, helmets and gloves. Once inside, students held onto the legs of the person in front of them as they stayed low and used their opposite arm to identify objects and furniture, sweeping the room for the baby.

“One of the hardest parts was going into the smoke filled area, it was a lot harder than i thought it was going to be,” Jade Martinez ’19 said. “We really had to look together, and use teamwork to find the bodies and work around the room.”

They were also able to practice putting out a fire with an extinguisher. While the firemen managed a controlled flame, students were encouraged to aim the the extinguisher at the base of the fire with a sweeping motion.

“I loved using the fire extinguisher as that’s something I’ve always wanted to try,” Kavya Raghavendhran ‘19 said. “Now I feel more prepared in case anything like that happens.”

Other stations featured a lesson on how to safely lift and carry someone by strapping them to a backboard, or even using a blanket to transport them. Lieutenant Johnson of the Jollyville Fire Department gave a lesson about natural gas and propane, and how to respond to a gas a leak. Students were also taught cribbing, a technique used to lift a heavy object such as a car in case a victim is pinned underneath.

Those who participated in this field trip were able to gain a unique understanding of both how to react during emergency situations, and how others with more experience such as the firemen act in such circumstances.

“Everybody needs to learn about fire safety, from elementary school, junior high school to high school because [they] are the ones as [they] get older who are going to be involved in the situation,” Assistant Chief Landi said. “We need to know how to protect yourselves from fire or other medical situations and what to do if there is an issue.”