LA VISTA (KPTM) – A group of potential volunteer fire fighters in La Vista spent their weekend learning what it's like to save someone's life.
The city's volunteer fire department ended its 6th annual Fire Academy Weekend Sunday afternoon.
"I get to get in with the fire. I get to get in with the smoke. I get to use the equipment," said Mitchell Warren who wants to join La Vista VFD. "To me there's no better way to, I think, to figure out what you're going to be getting yourself into in the real world."
This is the kind of hands-on practice that helps these students learn their body's limits.
"Crawling around down on my knees. That's probably been the hardest thing so far," said Jeoff Beaune who has wanted to volunteer all his life. "That wears you out pretty fast with this heavy pack on my back."
They also get to work with Emergency Medical Technicians and learn search and rescue operations.
"This is a great way for them to interview us as a fire department," said La Vista VFD's Lieutenant and Public Information Officer, Austin Brake. "Am I cut out for this? Can I do this? Do I like these people and can I see myself volunteering for this department?"
Brake said volunteer fire fighter recruitment has been low nationally. La Vista VFD hopes by giving people a chance to do these real-life courses they can increase recruitment and retain it.
"Last year we did have three individuals after their first who decided you know, ‘this isn't cut out for me' and they didn't come back the second day," Brake continued. "This year we have 20 individuals at the fire academy weekend and all 20 have returned the second day."
Since the program started six years ago, La Vista VFD said 50 percent of the people who have joined their department did so after attending Fire Academy Weekend.
Brake said they are taking applications up until the end of November. Requirements are posted on La Vista VFD's website.
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