Show and tell at East County Fire and Rescue

Citizens Academy gives an inside look at the rural fire department

Photos courtesy of ECFR A ECFR Citizens Academy participant works to extinguish a “live” vehicle fire. The academy gave citizens the opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at a day in the life of a firefighter.

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Citizens Academy students cut a car apart using auto extrication equipment. “Most people know very little about firefighters — and the actual services that they provide,” said ECFR Chief Scott Koehler.

Seven citizens from Clark County recently spent a day learning about what firefighters do — and how they do it — at East County Fire & Rescue’s annual Citizen’s Basic Fire & EMS Academy.

From the Fern Prairie station near Grove Field in Camas, participants learned about the business aspects of the District, including the role of the agency and its values and goals; annual budget; safety requirements; training requirements, achievements and accreditations; public information and public education; and customer service expectations.

In addition, they rendered emergency medical care to simulated medical patients and victims of traumatic injury and participated in a simulated resuscitation of a cardiac arrest victim. They also cut cars apart using auto extrication equipment and, at the end of the day, extinguished ‘live’ fires in those same vehicles.

Bethany Lindberg, one of the Academy participants, said it was a great learning experience.

“The firefighters were very helpful and courteous when it came to us asking questions, showing us how to put out vehicle fires, using the Jaws of Life and even the procedures they go through when approaching an EMS call,” she said. “I would definitely recommend everyone attend the academy.”

ECFR Fire Chief Scott Koehler said the Citizen’s Academy is a great way to both show and tell people what firefighters do.

“Most people know very little about firefighters and the actual services that they provide,” he said. “The academy is a great way for people to learn about the roll of the Fire District, understand the legal and financial requirements that exist, participate ‘hands-on’ in the delivery of a wide range of technical skills, and understand the challenges we face in delivering service to our community 24/7/365.”

Citizen Academy participants were invited to an eight-hour ride along with ECFR firefighters. They also can participate in a four-hour “sit along” with local 911 personnel to hear incoming emergency calls, and listen to fire and EMS units being dispatched throughout Clark County. Confidentiality agreements are required to participate in these activities.

Persons ages 18 and older who are interested in attending next spring’s Citizen Academy can contact Koehler at skoehler@ecfr.us.

The District is considering holding an Advanced Academy, this fall, for graduates of the Basic Academy.

East County Fire & Rescue serves the 9,534 residents who live in the 60 square miles of unincorporated area north and east of the cities of Camas and Washougal.

The District responded to 917 calls in 2012. Service is delivered from six fire stations via approximately 70 members — most are volunteers. This year’s tax revenue is expected to be $1.4 million.