Mass. FD's youth fire academy introduces students to fire, EMS careers

Lynn Vocational Technical Institute students spent July learning how to extinguish fires and rescue victims in several scenarios

By Emily Pauls
Daily Item

LYNN, Mass. — Like many high school students, 17-year-old Kevin Smart was uncertain about his path after graduation. But that has all changed in just a few weeks thanks to the Fire Department's Youth Academy.

"This program helped a lot and made me really want to become a firefighter," Smart, a Lynn Vocational Technical Institute student, said.

During the month of July, Smart and 11 other students from the city's public school district have been learning and experiencing everything about being a first responder.

Fire Captain Ryan Brown said this is the second year of the program, which teaches students about a wide range of topics. Students get to see what it is like to be a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, and a police officer.

"We try to expose them to all different areas, not just fire-specific," Brown said.

Since the program started last year, Brown said he knows of two participants who are currently in the process of becoming EMTs.

On Thursday at the Department of Public Works, the students worked with jaws of life, tools used to rescue people from small, enclosed spaces such as motor vehicles. They also learned how to use airbags to lift heavy objects to save a trapped victim.

Lt. Kevin Phipps, Firefighter Andrew Richard, and Firefighter Kyle Emmonds demonstrated step-by-step how to use the jaws of life to take apart a car. They took off the doors and cut out the windshield.

Through each step of the process, students were encouraged to try it out with assistance from the three firefighters. They reminded students of the fact that in a real situation, the scene would be chaotic, and coached them on how to protect and comfort the victims.

Friday was the final day of the academy and had the biggest event, a house-fire simulation. The students treated it just how the Fire Department would treat any fire.

"We integrated all the students into the apparatus," Brown said. "We began by staging over here in (the Lynn Tech) parking lot, all the trucks started there. The students got into the different vehicles, they responded with lights and sirens from here to the building. Depending on what truck that they were on, that gave them a different role."

The students, with assistance and guidance from the firefighters, used the ladder on the truck and a regular ground ladder to get into the house. They used the hose line and fire hydrants and saved a mock victim inside.

Everything the students have learned since July 5 culminated in Friday's simulation, Brown said.

"Every day was kind of like a building block," he said.

Valery Mauricio, a student from Lynn Tech who participated in the Youth Academy, said this past month has made her want to become a paramedic.

"I was thinking, 'What do I actually want to do when I grow up?' And my senior year is this year and I want to be in the medical field," Mauricio said.

Before the Youth Academy, she thought she would want to work with infants during labor and delivery.

"The best part was going around to meet the ambulance, I never knew that I could do something like that and become a paramedic," Mauricio said of the fire simulation. "But now it's like honestly, I'm down to become a paramedic."

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