DCCC Emergency Services College spans 30 years
Over the past three decades, Davidson County Community College for one weekend a year transforms into a cornucopia of emergency responders.
DCCC's annual Central Piedmont Emergency Services College attracts hundreds of present and future firemen and safety personnel to its campus for a weekend packed full of the latest professional development courses. Whether it's someone working toward a career in emergency services or a professional out to hone a particular skill, the “Fire College” gives first responders a platform to better serve the public in a time of need.
“We've got the full gamete should anybody need it,” said Bryan Knight, DCCC's fire and rescue services coordinator. “We try to appeal to a cross-section of everybody who needs something.”
DCCC this past weekend marked its 30-year milestone of the Emergency Services College, as more than 400 participants in dozens of different classes took part in the annual crash course of fire and safety training. First responders from across the state shared experiences and broadened their horizons in a program that offered a little bit of everything.
“Any chance we get to further ourselves or better ourselves, we'll take it,” Joseph Herrington, a volunteer at Hasty Fire Department, said. “It's very important because in this one weekend we learn so much stuff in just a couple of days. They cram in a lot in.”
Originally scheduled for Valentine's Day weekend, the Fire College was postponed due to inclement weather. A schedule change didn't stop representatives of more than 30 police, fire and emergecny services agencies from the chance to either take another step toward state certification or work with fellow first responders.
“It gives a chance to see what our neighboring departments and even other departments farther away, how their guys work and how they operate on a fire scene or emergency situation,” said Herrington. “It gives us a chance to look at each other's teamwork and see where we need to better ourself and everybody else.”
DCCC's Emergency Services College offers a variety of classes, including thermal imaging, helicopter transport, fire behavior and reading smoke. Local agencies such as Thomasville Fire Department and Davidson County EMS volunteer equipment and instructors in an effort to simulate real-life scenarios emergency responders may face in the field.
“It takes a lot of resources,” Knight said. “Some of these classes are part of their certifications and there are certain classes that over the grand scale, when you complete them all you can apply and become a fireman somewhere.”
For Caleb and Jeff Lambeth, the weekend turned into a family affair. Caleb, a 16-year-old sophomore at East Davidson High School, plans to follow in his father Jeff's footsteps. The Fire College proved a great way to get his feet wet, literall and figuratively. Caleb and Jeff Lambeth teamed up on a fire hose spraying exercise.
“I'm thinking about a career after high school,” said Caleb Lambeth. “This helps us know what we need to do and train better. It just helps you meet new people and learn from different departments and how they react.”
A pending change in certification criteria, Knight said, also has many students eager to complete the program before the end of the year.
“Everybody is kind of in that mode where they want to get finished before the changes take effect, even though they're very minor,” Knight said. “Any time there's change, people like to avoid that if possible. There's a big drive for people who are partially finished to get finished in the 2014 calendar year before the new standards take effect in January.”
Offering such a vast amount of courses in such a short period time allows aspiring first responders who currently work full-time a chance to complete some of the curriculum over a weekend. DCCC also offers associates degree programs in fire protection and emergency services.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.