Youths attend day of training

Junior firefighters learn ropes of trade

`We teach teamwork'

Event offers insight on volunteer companies

Westminster

September 12, 2004|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

More than 100 youths ages 8 to 18 converged on the Carroll County Fire Training Center yesterday to learn as much as they could in a day about firefighting and emergency medical services.

Personnel from nearly a dozen fire companies in Carroll and Howard counties set up stations to teach the children. The youths learned how to don turnout gear, pick up and carry a ladder correctly, throw rope to someone stranded in water and strap an injured patient to a backboard.

"We teach teamwork, the ability for one company to work with another," said Mary Lamb, who with her husband, Robin Lamb, has coordinated the Junior Firefighter Training Day for the past 10 years.

Yesterday was the Lambs' last day for leading the countywide junior program for the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association.

"I hope somebody takes over who cares about the kids enough to do it," Robin Lamb said. "You have to get them at the age we're getting them so you can catch their interest and keep them."

Planting the seed early can prove beneficial to the volunteer fire companies in Carroll. Several who have gone through the junior firefighter program are now working in the field.

Charlie Green, 23, started as a junior at age 11, became a senior member at 16 and is a Gamber fire lieutenant. He is also on the company's board of directors and is a member of the countywide Advanced Technical Rescue Team.

"Kids who go through the program have an easier time of it when they become senior members," Green said.

The program offers youths several advantages, including a head start on training and networking with county firefighters, Green said.

Yesterday, the youths watched senior firefighters climb Tower 3, the Westminster company's 105-foot ladder truck. They also watched as senior firefighters demonstrated an auto extrication with hydraulic tools.

Robert W. Jacobs, president of the Maryland State Firemen's Association, said safety is always a primary concern for firefighters.

"My concern is safety, with any age, any time you have someone involved in fire and rescue, there's always a safety concern, regardless of who it is and their age," Jacobs said. "It is a dangerous occupation."

As part of yesterday's activities, the Lambs arranged for a MedEvac helicopter to visit. People stopped to listen to pilot Phillip Perez and paramedic Robert Harsh talk about the program and the helicopter. They also answered questions about MedEvac and their job.

Junior firefighters also participated in a simulated search and rescue station. While three of the Manchester fire company's youths took a hose into a darkened building, a fourth team member fed them more hose. A few minutes later, the three dragged out a "victim" from the building.

"It's hard to see and pretty dirty," said Dan Stone, 15, Manchester junior president. "You just go by what you can feel and what the people in front are telling you. It's communications. It was ugly, but we got him out."

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