Riverland hosts “Firefighter School” in Austin

Riverland hosts “Firefighter School” in Austin

From driving emergency vehicles and operating the latest equipment to CPR and search and rescue techniques, there's always more to learn when you're an emergency responder.

(ABC 6 News) – Nearly 300 firefighters and emergency responders from all over southeast Minnesota and north Iowa donned their gear and hit the books as they underwent training this weekend at Riverland Community College.

From driving emergency vehicles and operating the latest equipment, to CPR/search and rescue techniques, there’s always more to learn when you’re an emergency responder.

The weekend training courses at Riverland for emergency workers were conducted by over 20 instructors from the region.

Participants simulated rescue extractions from houses, vehicles and grain bins. Mobile training units were also on site that help immerse the firefighters within the scenario; whether it be forcible entry in a smoke-filled room, a burning LP tank, or self and team rescue techniques.

“There is a struggle to find firefighters. A lot of the fire departments in this area are more volunteer-based and with everybody’s busy schedules, to add one more thing it’s kind of difficult to get volunteers, but they’re essential,” said Wanda McCoy, Riverland Community College Fire and EMS Coordinator. “They’re just essential to every community. So, if I could say anything, it’s if you have any desire to be a firefighter, be a firefighter for your local fire department.”

Fire and EMS courses offered year-round at Riverland include not just basic fire and rescue courses necessary for certification, but also hazmat and ambulance operations, and a course in Spanish for emergency responders.