Students receive hands on emergency experience in class

Albany High School students practiced properly using fire extinguishers in a class demonstration

Fires broke out at a breezeway at Albany High School Friday afternoon, but students were there to put them out: It was part of a class exercise for the students.

"What we're doing out here today is letting them pretty much become not afraid of using a fire extinguisher," says Emergency Medicine Pathway teacher Melinda Suber, who is also a paramedic.

A container of gasoline was lit and students, with the help of an Albany Fire Department training officer, put out the fire properly using sweeping motions and other techniques they learned in class.

The students are getting more than just hands on experience in their Emergency Medicine Pathway and Law & Justice classes. The class is a part of the Career Technical Agriculture Education (CTAE) program which gives students real industry experience.

"We teach CERT which is the Community Emergency Response team and we get the students ready to be able to respond to any type of disaster and part of their training is learning how to use a fire extinguisher," says Suber.

For students like Mariah Hatcher, the class is a perfect match to help with her future career goals.

"I was really interested in being in the medical field. At first I was thinking about being a paramedic but then I wanted to travel around the world helping people so I thought being a traveling nurse will be perfect," says Hatcher. "I think that will really help me especially with my classes at Darton that I'm planning to go to. I think that will also help me get farther in my classes."

This class does more than count for credit: They can become first responders right after high school graduation.

"In this class they'll all be CPR certified, first aid certified and it comes with a CERT 317 certification," says Suber.

Teachers say the class also introduces students to a public safety career path they may want to follow.

"It gets them in the introduction of where they'll hopefully go into public safety either firefighting, police or EMS," says Suber. "But a lot of them find out I don't want to do this and I'd rather them find out here than spend all the time and energy in a secondary program."

She says even if students do not become firefighters or EMS, it is still important for them to learn how to remain calm and act appropriately in an emergency, like a fire and using a fire extinguisher.

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