Fire Service seeks a few good Explorers

COVINGTON -- If you're a high-schooler and are interested in learning about the day-to-day responsibilities of firefighters or emergency medical technicians, the Newton County Fire Service is offering a program geared to prepare youngsters seeking a career in those fields through its Boy Scout Explorer post.

Steve Raulerson, who is in charge of the post, said the 20-year-old program is down to about five participants and NCFS is hoping to increase the numbers to about 25 members.

"It used to be a part of the Salem Volunteer Fire Department and we moved it over to the county," he said. "We're doing recruitment now."

Raulerson invites all interested young people, ranging in ages from 15 to 20, and their parents to attend a recruitment night program at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at the Fire Department headquarters., located next to McDonald's at 4136-A U.S. Highway 278.

The Explorers is a cooperative effort between the Fire Department and young people, teaching them exactly what a career as a firefighter or EMT would entail.

"We do training with ropes, technical rescue ... we do extrication, medical stuff ... the type of stuff we would do every day at the Fire Department," Raulerson said. "The only thing we don't really get into is live fires because that's a little bit too dangerous for kids to get involved with."

Raulerson said badges can be earned for Boy Scouting as well as college scholarships, but it is also an excellent program for those considering what kind of career options are open to them once they're out of school.

"If you really want a career with the Fire Department ... it helps them learn what is expected of them. They actually see what's goes on. We meet at fire stations. They can do ride-alongs. They actually learn what the responsibilities are daily," he said.

And if a career as a firefighter or an EMT is what the youngster decides to seek, Explorers is a good way to get their foot in the door and deal with some of the initial "shocks" of seeing accident victims or feeling the tension of a rescue.

"We try to help them as much as we can as far as references or if the county is hiring," he said. "From our post, we've probably had 10 to 15 to be hired as firemen. We've had a pretty good success rate."

Raulerson said the post coordinates it's efforts not only with parents, but schools, as well.

"We send a quarterly evaluation to schools, and we keep up with how well they're doing in school. I think it helps give them a sense of responsibility and it keeps them from veering off onto the wrong track, which is easy to do for a teenager," he said.

Anyone with questions about the program is invited to the recruitment night event, or Raulerson is available by calling 678-625-5006 or e-mailing sraulerson@co.newton.ga.us.