SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Frontline workers are needed now more than ever during the pandemic. To help prepare the next generation of firefighters and EMS workers, the Sioux City Career Academy has it covered.
“Our teacher came and talk to me on the side and asked if I was interested in taking the classes and then I took them and now I’m in love with it,” said Bennett Vanderloo, a fire science student.
Vanderloo is just one of the many students enrolled in the program.
“This class really lets you know if this is for you or if it’s not for you, it really opens your eye to what actually happens inside the fire service,” said Vanderloo.
“A lot of it is to introduce them to what is out there and to build some life skills,” said Anthony Gaul, the instructor of the Fire Science program.
Gaul is not just an educator, he’s the fire chief in Sergeant Bluff and knows firsthand the added challenges the fire service is facing.
“They are getting less and less people who are testing for these positions, so they don’t have as big of a pool to draw from, this will help,” said Gaul.
The pandemic presents another level of challenge while at the same time offering students even more real-world knowledge.
“We’ve learned over these last 10 to 11 months how to deal with the pandemic, such as COVID. It’s been great to bring those stories and those learning points into class, whether it’s in the medical for fire classes, here’s some adjustments we have made, here are best practices that are being followed across the country and in our local region,” said Gaul.
Once this class comes to an end, Gaul says there’s every reason to believe some of these students will be future firefighters
“We’ve grown from totally program enrollment of seven to eight the first year when I inherited it to about thirty-five this year, and it sounds like next year we will be even more than that,” said Gaul.