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Sparking interest in Fire and Emergency Services careers

Cutting open a car, breaking down a door and navigating through a smoke filled building are just some of the adrenalin pumping activities local high school students recently experience with crews from Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services (LFES).

As part of the Try the Trades program, students from several school divisions attended the LFES training facility on the evening of Wednesday, November 16. This group got first-hand knowledge of the work our local firefighters and paramedics perform every day.

LFES was one of close to 30 different worksites participating in the Try the Trades program, which gives students an opportunity to try a variety of career paths.

"This is the first time our department has participated in this event," says Gerrit Sinke, Deputy Chief of Training and Safety for LFES. "We were excited to showcase what we do and were also able to work it into our own training, having our 10 new recruits lead the program." The

Students rotated through three different training areas with several recruits as well as experienced department members guiding them through each activity.  

"We wanted to show a good cross section of what we do," says Sinke. "We had them participate in some rescue activities and both fire and medical scenarios. They were carefully supervised to keep everyone safe but we also didn't shy away from giving them some real-life experiences."

Suited up in full, firefighter turn-out gear, students got a closer look at what is involved in rescue training. This included doing a forced door entry using specialized tools and learning industry techniques. They also braved the winter weather to learn how vehicle extractions are done, cutting through metal with using the Jaws of Life.  

Next, participants were on to medical training, practicing CPR and evaluating their success using the same technology accessed by Lethbridge paramedics on a daily basis. This group also learned other medical procedures and got experience loading and unloading patients into an ambulance.

Lastly, the fire scenario had students gear up with oxygen tanks and face masks before they entered the three story training tower. Filled with smoke, participants made their way to the top floor where they had to navigate through a maze of metal cages in full equipment – not an easy task, even for the most seasoned firefighters.

"I really hope the students walked away with an appreciation for what it takes to be a firefighter and paramedic," says Sinke. "And for some, I also hope that we maybe sparked that passion for public service. This is a rewarding and exciting career."

The Try the Trades program is spearheaded by the Lethbridge School Division in partnership with the Holy Spirit, Horizon and Palliser School Divisions. This year approximately 300 student participated in various work experience opportunities across the region.

"We recognize that Fire and Emergency Services isn't technically considered a trade," says Andrew Krul, the event organizer with Lethbridge School Division. "But we were excited to expand the program to include them and give more students the opportunity is learn about the different aspects of our Fire and Emergency Services. We also hope to include more City of Lethbridge careers in this event in the future."

The next Try the Trades event is planned for the spring to 2023. 

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