Twenty-five Grade 11/12 students from Madawaska Valley District High School (MVDHS) got interactive hands-on experience on May 28 of what First Responders deal with during typical emergency calls. The day-long program focused on accident scene recreation, extrication, and suppression training. MV Chief Fire Official Corwin Quade, six other members of MV Fire Department, retired OPP Constable Colin McCallum (Technical Re-construction Officer) and Mrs. McCallum, retired MVDHS teacher were the trainers. MV teachers Ms. Margaret Cruchet and Mr. Richard Stone accompanied the students to the MV North Fire Hall for the program. (Above MV students in brown suits and MV Fire Dept. in black suits respond to motor vehicle collision re-enactment. Photo Corwin Quade)
The students were broken into two groups: technical traffic investigation, and extrication and suppression. Halfway through the day they switched over so everyone was able to experience both areas in which First Responders work.
MVDHS students learn about accident investigation with OPP Cst. (Ret) McCallum. Photo Corwin Quade
The technical traffic investigation group began their half-day session in a classroom with Mr. and Mrs. McCallum. In an exercise, the students tested their reaction time to avoid an accident while driving at 80 kph. Then they repeated the exercise and attempted to avoid an accident while texting. After that the group went outside to a re-enacted accident scene. They learned how police conduct an investigation after a serious motor vehicle collision. The students were given an accident scenario and required to complete measurements of skid marks, and the distance travelled by each vehicle. They presented the information and explained their findings. They had to determine fault and say who would have caused the collision. Mr. McCallum told them about real incidents he had investigated during his career.
Meanwhile MV Fire Department explained their role to the students in the extrication and suppression group. Typically MV Fire Department responds to calls that include structure fires, wildfires, smoke and CO alarm calls, motor vehicle collisions, extrication and mutual aid calls. The students learned that volunteer fire fighters must be trained in all these areas. The reason for this is that many volunteers work regular jobs or may be away at times, so it is impossible to predict who will respond to a call. Volunteer fire fighters carry radio/pagers 24/7 unlike career fire fighters who work scheduled shifts. Also larger fire departments have enough personnel to train teams for specific jobs. Students observed how an extrication is done, then they had the opportunity to operate the Jaws of Life themselves. (Shown MVDHS students in brown with MV Fire Dept. in black. Photo Corwin Quade) They tried out the Fire Department tools and equipment. The students re-enacted a real fire emergency by dragging a fire hose into a building on a search and rescue operation. Chief Fire Officer Corwin Quade related personal experiences from his 30.5 year career in the fire service, 27 years as a volunteer fire fighter and three years as a career fire chief.
Quade told The Current that the students were very well mannered and asked excellent questions. He said they seemed to enjoy the experience of learning about being First Responders.