Thirteen international firefighters from South America recently attended Rapid Intervention Crew training classes at Surry Community College.
Ten firefighters from Peru and three from Colombia received hands-on training to learn how to safely rescue fellow firefighters who may be trapped in an emergency situation. They spent five days at the college’s Emergency Services Training Center in Dobson receiving instruction and working through practice scenarios as a team.
Instructor Gustavo Herrera and Ian Harrell, director of fire and rescue programs and the Emergency Services Training Center, were two of the team of instructors providing hands-on training opportunities in conjunction with the Career and College Promise Firefighter Block class running at the college. One morning of class was spent with the career and college students acting as victims in a two-story brick building, with the international firefighters learning the best methods and protocols for safely rescuing them from harm’s way. They stressed to the students the importance of practicing these methods again and again when returning home, to share these techniques with their colleagues so they may be able to help one another quickly and effectively in high-stress situations.
Herrera has been teaching with SCC for two years and appreciates the opportunities that they’ve had to host international students. “These students love the profession and love being firefighters; it isn’t about a paycheck for them,” he said. “They pay and travel to come here and gain all of this new knowledge that we hope they then take home and multiply in their home countries. This class is about reducing the mortality rate of firefighters and being able to save lives worldwide – that is our ultimate goal.”
Harrell has been hosting and teaching international students for eight years at SCC. He says that, while they are teaching the methods and strategies used in the United States, they are also able to gain knowledge from these students.
“Every country has firefighters. Things are done differently in every country. We enjoy getting to learn from them and see what they are capable of doing with the different resources provided to them in their home country. It’s interesting to see their methods,” Harrell said.
Harrell also emphasized the benefits that this class has for the local community. “The students save up their money to come here and pay for these classes. For many of these guys, this is their first time in the United States, and they’re excited to be here and see the local way of life. It helps to benefit both the local economy and the exchange of knowledge within our fire departments.”
Surry Community College offers a variety of firefighting, rescue and hazardous materials classes both on campus and through organizations in Surry and Yadkin counties. Students can receive a certificate to become a Certified Firefighter, Technical Rescuer, or Fire Officer. The college offers a vast number of courses for those just entering the firefighting field, as well as those in current rescue job positions looking to renew their current certifications or add skills to their repertoire. All certification classes are conducted in accordance with the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission’s policies and guidelines. For more information, contact Harrell at 336-386-3403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.