By MICHAEL WALSH HARTFORD COURANT |
DEC 09, 2019 | 2:29 PM
The Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department has launched a recruiting drive for its cadet program. The program offers fire and EMT training to teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18.
Having graduated its last cadet last summer, the Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department is seeking to bring in a new batch of young people interested in learning from the department.
The program, designed for teens between the ages of 14 and 18, has mentored more than 100 young men and women since it was started in the 1980s. Many of those graduates went on to have careers in the field, or became volunteer firefighters themselves.
Scott Goeben, a cadet advisor, said the program has been important to the department’s ability to recruit young firefighters. “The cadet program has been a very important pipeline for firefighters and EMTs throughout the years,” Goeben said.
Rob Weed, another cadet advisor, was once a cadet himself. The experience made a big impact on him as a teenager. “As a 16-year old cadet, I responded to a chimney fire at my neighbor’s house,” Weed said. “I’ll always remember assisting the firefighters who saved her home and knowing that I played an important role in helping someone I knew. I wasn’t just watching from the sidelines.”
Weed, speaking from experience, said he sees the program as a way to instill maturity, pride, confidence, and respect in a young person – whether they become a firefighter or EMT after they graduate the program or not.
“I learned how to be more confident in myself, in terms of my skills, and also in my capacity to deal with emergencies in everyday life,” Weed said. “If someone in my family gets injured, I know I can at least move in a positive direction, versus not knowing what to do, or making a bad situation even worse.”
Goeben said cadets have made lasting impacts on the department, including on the technology side of things when a group of senior cadets worked with dispatchers to set up drafting sites around town.
But in addition to that, they get to be part of a team that’s more like a family than anything else. And when an emergency strikes, they get to see how that team reacts and helps the community.
“It gives them a feeling for what it’s like to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Goeben said. “We want to make sure they are aware of what goes on and how we do it. They get to see how we take care of our team members. If we have a bad incident, we do a debriefing after that, and they can see how that works and how we support each other. It’s a good program for when they go out into life. They will be exposed to things that most teens don’t see up close.”
Weed said those challenges, and all that comes with them, are great for a young person to encounter. “Cadets will be challenged in ways that they never anticipated and perform duties they never thought they could accomplish,” Weed said. “There will be disappointments, setbacks, and unpleasant circumstances to deal with. But, the experience of knowing how to skillfully help someone out, how to make their life better – there’s no more significant way to help the community.”
Those interested in finding out more about the cadet program can email the department, at firstname.lastname@example.org.