Academy trains heroes

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Jimmy Martinez cuts a car door using the Jaws of Life while classmates Matthew Klavon and Ricky Huizar hold it open.   Photo by Neven Jones

Jimmy Martinez cuts a car door using the Jaws of Life while classmates Matthew Klavon and Ricky Huizar hold it open. Photo by Neven Jones

First Responders Academy instructor and Bexar-Bulverde Fire Department volunteer Cheryl McCall demonstrates how to safely pull a broken windshield off a car Oct. 31 at Texas Auto Salvage as fire science students Darius Hart and Ricky Huizar watch.  Photo by Neven Jones

First Responders Academy instructor and Bexar-Bulverde Fire Department volunteer Cheryl McCall demonstrates how to safely pull a broken windshield off a car Oct. 31 at Texas Auto Salvage as fire science students Darius Hart and Ricky Huizar watch. Photo by Neven Jones

Photos and story by Neven Jones

njones4@student.alamo.edu

First Responders Academy students from this college spent Halloween at Texas Auto Salvage stabilizing overturned cars, cutting off car doors and ripping off broken windshields.

Three cars, donated by the salvage yard, were crashed and placed in different positions, giving students the opportunity to explore different accident scenarios. One car was turned on its side, and another was flipped over onto its roof. The third car’s hood was smashed.

Before the students headed to the salvage yard, they had auto extraction training in which they learned the science of how cars are put together.

The students also learned where to cut the cars to better access accident victims, said Martin Davila, chair of protective services.

First Responders Academy student Sierra Hudson shares a laugh with classmate Kevin Shelhamer during a break Oct. 31 at Texas Auto Salvage.  Photo by Neven Jones

First Responders Academy student Sierra Hudson shares a laugh with classmate Kevin Shelhamer during a break Oct. 31 at Texas Auto Salvage. Photo by Neven Jones

The intense semester-long fire science certificate classes are taught 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the First Responders Academy in Atascosa.

By the end of the program students will have completed 27 credits and earned a Basic Firefighter Certificate, level 1 through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, Davila said.

Students can then apply to any fire department and get a job, he said.

Academy student Sierra Hudson said she knew at a young age she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her family and join the military or become a firefighter.

Hudson, the only female in her class of 18 students, said watching the terrorist attacks on 9/11 convinced her to pursue a career as a firefighter because she wanted to help people.

To stay fit, students engage in one hour of physical training twice a week. They run and do lunges, burpees and other exercises to increase their stamina and upper body strength, Davila said.

Of the program’s 20-25 students per semester, 10 to 15 percent drop, he said.

Davila said students usually drop out at the beginning of the semester.

Students interested in enrolling in the program must apply to this college first, then attend a series of briefs where they learn what to expect from the program and what equipment they will use. All equipment is provided for students, but they must buy their own uniforms, Davila said.

For more information call, 210-486-1692.

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