Not long after getting settled at their desks on Friday morning, an alarm sounded and students in Escalon High School’s CTE – Career and Technical Education – First Responder Pathway’s Fire Science class were off and running. Their classroom is adjacent to a replica firehouse, set up with open face lockers holding their turnout gear, a fire engine parked in the bay. The firehouse is in the former auto shop, converted to a fire station for purposes of the CTE program.
Teaching the class this year are Seth Davis and Susan Davis, both with a background in the emergency services field.
EHS Principal Eric Simoni said the program is growing and its success can be attributed to the skills and passion for the career shown by both instructors.
Some of the firehouse conversion was completed with a CTE Incentive Grant, while much of the work was done by Seth Davis, noted Simoni, logging plenty of weekend hours providing the onsite real life classroom.
With an estimated 270 students taking part in the CTE First Responders Pathway, Simoni said they are working on an articulation agreement with Modesto Junior College so some of those credits can go with the students to the college level. Instruction is provided both for EMT and Fire Science classes.
The program also has its own fire engine and ambulance, with the ambulance donated by Escalon Community Ambulance and the school district purchasing the used fire engine.
Remodeling of the Firehouse – Station 41 – has included installation of 30 student lockers fully outfitted with firefighter turnouts and radios.
“We’ve got high student demand for enrollment,” Simoni added of the program gaining in popularity. And, he noted, the career itself is a growing field so EHS is helping prepare students for a career they can get into quickly.
Eventually, it is hoped that the school can take part in SkillsUSA, a competition that would pit the EHS first responders against those from other schools in a variety of real-life scenarios in their field.
Second year participant Giavanni Brunetti, a senior, has enjoyed both the EMT and fire science portions of the class.
“It’s a career I want to pursue, my dad and step mom are both involved in the field,” he explained. “I love helping people; it’s my passion.”
For senior Julianna Coelho, a second year student as well, she sees the class as a precursor for her chosen field.
“I want to be a pediatrician,” she said.
Her plan is to get her RN at MJC and then continue her schooling to become a pediatrician.
“I just like how it’s all hands on,” she said of the CTE class. “I really like learning, and there are so many new things we don’t know … we gain good community skills.”
For first-year instructor Susan Davis, it’s a chance to make a difference for students that drives her.
“We’re trying to focus on developing those leadership skills, the technology skills,” she said. “In addition to teaching emergency response content, we focus on leadership development through teamwork. At the end of the day, we want students to graduate from our program with a strong sense of leadership and how to be a part of a successful team.”
Along with teaching at EHS, Susan Davis is an EMT at Delta Speedway and is retired from the Navy, where she served as a flight deck corpsman aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Instructor Seth Davis, who is also Susan’s husband, is an EMT at Delta as well and was a firefighter with Manteca Fire Department for seven years. He is in his second year teaching at EHS.
“We want them to work under some stress and pressure,” Seth explained of introducing the students to the various scenarios. “It’s a good process that teaches them the skills and abilities they would need if they ever want to be a firefighter.”
They are often timed when the alarm goes off, given a specific amount of time to get into their turnouts, then another time trial when they get ‘on scene’ and start the attack.
He explained that the fire science class members were working on a five-evolution attack in a simulated fire and rescue drill on Friday.
The ‘first in’ is the fire attack, with a primary search for people trapped in a building. Second in is the RIC, Rapid Intervention Crew, for the rescue of a downed firefighter; third is the water supply crew, fourth would be a secondary search for people trapped in the building and the fifth would be the ventilation crew, which would cut a hole in the roof of the building to provide ventilation, allowing smoke and flames to escape.
Meanwhile, in the EMT class on Friday, students were learning about the heart in what was termed ‘The Circulatory Challenge’.
“We wanted to find a fun and engaging way for students to learn how blood circulates through the heart. An extra large image of the heart was drawn on the ground and cones placed in key areas, students then had to work within their battalions to circulate through the heart starting as ‘deoxygenated blood’ and ultimately exit the heart as ‘oxygenated blood’,” Susan said. “Each battalion was timed, which created a sense of competition amongst the students. Our fastest time was 10.36 seconds. We were incredibly impressed with how our students performed and how eager they were to memorize the circulatory system.”
Courses offered currently at Escalon through the CTE are the EMT 1 and 2 and Fire Science 1 and 2. There are 10 different class periods throughout the week to accommodate the 270 students enrolled.