Blue Valley high school students get hands-on experience on being a first responder

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Overland Park Fire Department is teaching more than a dozen Blue Valley School District high school students how to become first responders.

It’s a partnership it has with the Blue Valley School District to get more students career ready.

The students are taking a course called “fire science.”

This is just the course Ben Seitz felt called to.

“For a year and half now I’ve had this hunch with myself, I felt really led towards the firefighting and EMS field,” Seitz said.

Friday afternoon, students learning why foam is used to fight fires.

“Students were learning foam applications. There are three different methods we apply foam in a hazmat incident,” Andrew Bobka, Overland Park Fire Department Training Officer said.

Plus, learning how to collect evidence at a fire scene.

“The students are learning the same professional curriculum that they would need to get started in the fire service,” Bobka said. “So right now those students are enrolled in a Hazmat awareness and operations course.”

Adam Wessel, the Blue Valley School District director of career-ready programs, said this is the inaugural year for this specialty course. Fifteen students are enrolled.

“Our students are able to take these courses for college credit through Johnson County Community College. The district pays 100% of their tuition,” he said.

As fire departments across the country struggle with getting new recruits, Wessel believes this program will help staff local departments in the future.

“Kind of creating a pipeline potentially for their future work force,” Wessel said.

While Seitz is only a junior, he is already envisioning making a difference in people’s lives.

“I’ve always loved serving my community and this is a good way to do it,” he said.

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