Air rescue, structure fire, Fire Academy students jump right in
CAMP RIPLEY--It was an action-packed week filled with a rescue mission and a structure fire. It was the job of 31 students of the Central Lakes College Fire Academy in Brainerd to take the cognitive online skills they've learned and apply them to...
CAMP RIPLEY-It was an action-packed week filled with a rescue mission and a structure fire.
It was the job of 31 students of the Central Lakes College Fire Academy in Brainerd to take the cognitive online skills they've learned and apply them to hands-on emergency responder and firefighting skills.
The students are expected to graduate Saturday, June 11, at the Camp Ripley Hanger Conference Center.
Leader of the program-Eric Makowski-Budrow, CLC's customized training representative/fire and emergency medical services program manager-said this is the first time the college has done the fire academy at Camp Ripley and they hope to do more in the future.
How the program works is students are taking a hybrid class, which means they first take the cognitive portion of this class online. The students go through all the lectures-up to 40 chapters-and take the tests online for Firefighter I and Firefighter II. Then this past week the students came together and conducted progressive training. The students experienced first hand several emergency responder and firefighting skills at Camp Ripley as part of the academy.
"You can't get this type of training anywhere," Makowski-Budrow said. "Camp Ripley is a perfect spot and we can go into their buildings and practice.
"This academy is different ... A normal class is where kids would meet a couple days a week and every other weekend and would take three to four months of classes. ... With the hands on learning the students get a lot more value being here because they are exposed to so many things. We brought in some really good instructors from across the state and they are giving the students so many great lessons."
The academy's main instructors who helped Tuesday include: Nick Ledin from Eau Claire, Wis. Fire Department and Jeff Rothmeier from the St. Paul Fire Department as well as his Logistics Chief Dennis Logelin and EMS Officer Don Hannahs.
Makowski-Budrow said firefighters can choose where they take their training for classes and other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and private businesses offer courses.
"We are unique and everyone in the state can come," Makowski-Budrow said.
The college had a fire and EMS program back in the '90s, but it closed shop when there wasn't a need for the program anymore. CLC has since reopened the program as there is a need for fire and EMS services. CLC works with fire departments in the five-county area, including Randall, Nisswa, Brainerd and Mission on firefighting training skills. Part of the program's mission is to respond to the community needs with regard to fire and overall services.
The academy didn't mess around and students Tuesday took part in an air rescue mission, where the Minnesota Air Rescue Team-MART-made up of the Minnesota State Patrol and St. Paul Fire Department spend the day with the students on aerial rescues. MART supports local agencies statewide in rescue efforts when aerial support is needed and is funded by the state.
A rescue by air can be challenging, but is the quickest way to save someone and sometimes the only way.
Kurt Chelgren, one of the members of the MART team, said in the Mart program the state patrol provides the aircraft and pilots and the St. Paul Fire Department provides the trained rescuers. "We've worked together for many years now and training is ongoing," Chelgren said. "We train monthly. ... We do this training to avoid any mishaps."
Chelgren said MART is called when a rescue is not possible by ground. Some of the rescues MART has done include rescuing a woman last year in the rugged terrain near Lake Superior where a woman fell and injured her hip, as well as rescues up in the Boundary Waters and the bluffs of Red Wing.
Chelgren said there are areas where a ground rescue is not possible as there is no road or boat access.
"We have helicopter access," Chelgren said. "We can fly in, package the patient and evacuate them pretty quickly to ground or other air transportation and that usually works really well."
Chelgren said the agency will train with anyone and this was the first time they worked with CLC. The training MART conducted with the students was a search mission where there was a person missing in a wooded area and they had injuries. The MART pilot and two rescuers took off and began searching for the missing person as the students watched. The person was located, the helicopter got into position, the rescuer came down and hooked up the person and they were taken to safety.
"We have had some successful rescues, search missions." Chelgren said. "It's rewarding to have a positive outcome on some of these and it is a boost for the team. Everyone wants to see a successful mission."
MART works with a lot of fire agencies in the state. "We are lucky enough to have them work with us," Makowski-Budrow said. And this type of air rescue mission is one firefighters should train for in the Brainerd lakes area.
Makowski-Budrow said, "If you look at the number of people who like to enjoy our woods and the potential for injury or an accident to happen here, whether it is an ATV accident or someone falling out of a deer stand or any type of medical emergency-it makes this type of service invaluable. When we can't get back there with regular ambulances or rigs we have to look at something else to get someone out quickly. And that is what this service does."
The students also experienced a controlled-burn structure fire in Upsala.
One of the students, Randy Bergquist of the Melrose Fire Department, said the week has been hard work, but rewarding. On Tuesday, Bergquist said he has learned more in the hands-on training than he learned in the online training.
Bergquist said when firefighters get to the scene they want to make sure their hoses are ready to go and they know all the different sizes of hoses and brackets. He said there is a certain way to drag the hose when they go from one room to the next.
"Communication is key," Bergquist said. "Talking to your team members, as well as talking to incident command is crucial when searching a room filled with smoke. ... You need to communicate and these instructors have been great. They know their stuff."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.