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Teens learn lifesaving skills from JBA firefighters

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Jackson Hopkins, Fire Explorer Academy cadet, poses for a photo before operating a fire truck’s hose during the program’s firefighter skill demonstration on Joint Base Andrews Md., June 30, 2018. Hopkins was one of the 10 cadets who successfully completed the annual course.

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Students with the Fire Explorer Academy pose for a photo at Fire Station 1 on Joint Base Andrews, Md., June 27, 2018. The Fire Explorer Academy is an annual program focused on exposing high school aged students to the career field.

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A Fire Explorer Academy cadet pulls a fire hose during an exercise on Joint Base Andrews Md., June 30, 2018. The weeklong event taught students aged 14-18 the basics of fire operations.

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A student with the Fire Explorer Academy tests a fire hose during training on Joint Base Andrews Md., on June 30, 2018. The program is designed to familiarize high school-aged youths with a career in firefighting.

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A student with the Fire Explorer Academy executes a drag maneuver during a fire rescue simulation on Joint Base Andrews, Md., on June 27, 2018. Students aged 14-18 performed a search and rescue simulation to demonstrate the life-saving skills they had been taught during the second annual Fire Explorer Academy.

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A firefighter helmet sits on a table at Fire Station 1 on Joint Base Andrews, Md. Firefighters assigned to the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron hosted the second annual Fire Explorer Academy on June 25-30, 2018.

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

Fresh off his first day of youth firefighter training, 15-year-old Marcus Fulford suddenly found himself in a situation that required emergency services. Walking through his local church, he heard an unfamiliar bang and clank come from the direction of the church’s elevator. He stopped and stared at the sealed metal doors in search of answers.

“Is anyone there?” A cry for help seeped through the doors only loud enough for Fulford to hear.

Without question, Fulford called those he knew could help the trapped -- firefighters. The next day -- Day 2 of training -- the wide-eyed Fulford recounted the quick and crafty rescue of the elderly couple in the stuck elevator, clearly eager to learn more tactics himself. 

As a cadet in the second annual Fire Explorer Academy on Joint Base Andrews, Fulford and 10 other 14- to 18-year-old youths learned emergency response procedures from Airmen assigned to 11th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection unit June 25-30. 

The academy is designed to familiarize participants with the training requirements and lifestyle of an Air Force firefighter.

The cadets received hands-on, in-depth training on search and rescue procedures, such as donning and doffing fire safety gear, using defibrillators and tourniquets, performing CPR, hose carry techniques and more.

“Firefighting is a strenuous job,” said Senior Airman Dean Adamczyk, 11th CES fire inspector.  “We aim to accurately portray that during the week as we challenge the cadets both mentally and physically.”

On the sixth day of training, cadets demonstrated the skills they learned throughout the program by operating a fire truck’s hose to control a fire, performing search and rescue exercises in a smoke-filled room and performing CPR to resuscitate simulated victims.

“It basically helped me to [someday] save a life,” Fulford said. “I had always wanted to help people. I’ve always been that way, but now that I know all these skills, I feel more confident."

For more information about future academy iterations, contact the Fire Prevention Public Outreach program at 301-981-6977.