First responders 
instruct public 
on safety rules

Under the watchful eye of a Grand Junction firefighter, Bud Markos of Grand Junction uses a power cutter to slice through the B post on a wrecked vehicle as his Public Safety Academy group gets a hands-on lesson in extrication behind the Grand Junction Regional Center on Saturday.

It was finals week, sort of, for the latest group of Grand Junction residents who are enrolled in the city’s free Public Safety Academy.

The latest class, which has about 20 area residents who range in age from 16 to their 70s, received some hands-on training in fire skills Saturday at the Grand Junction Regional Center.

The 4-1/2 hour event is near the end of the 15-week fire and police training academy, which meets on Thursday, Grand Junction Fire Chief Ken Watkins said.

“Most of the time when you see these citizens academies, they’re either police or fire, but two years ago when we started this, we decided to combine them,” Watkins said. “We cover fire and EMS, police activity things and we also do dispatch. It really is just familiarization with public safety here in Grand Junction.”

On Saturday, academy participants not only got practical experience in the proper use of fire extinguisher and how to treat and transport patients in an ambulance, but they also got to cut trapped patients out of automobiles.

They also got to don hazardous material suits and self-contained breathing apparatuses.

Watkins said the free course is designed to better acquaint area residents with what first-responders actually do day-to-day.

He said some younger people take the course because they think they might be interested in a career in police work or fire fighting.

Older people take the class just to learn more about their community or to get a better appreciation for the people who risk their lives to serve and protect.

“They walk away seeing how physical the job is,” Watkins said. “We have physical fitness requirements. Our folks are tested every year. We expect them to maintain their fitness, that’s why we have fitness areas at the fire stations. People do find out how hard it is.”


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