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Cadets learn lifesaving skills during academy
Junior Fire Academy pic
Dawson County Fire Lt. Jeff Banks speaks to students as firefighters prepare for a house fire exercise during the Junior Fire Academy. - photo by Mark Watkins Dawson Community News

Caitlyn Banks loves to listen to the stories her father tells about his job as a firefighter.

"My dad is a fulltime firefighter for Dawson County, and I've been wanting to be a firefighter since I was 2 years old," said the 13-year-old.

This week Banks was able to live out that dream as a participant in the Dawson County Emergency Services Junior Fire Academy.

"My dad, Jeff Banks, goes out every day, puts his life out on the line and I wanted to see what that was like," she said.

Now entering its fourth year, fire personnel welcomed about two dozen cadets Monday morning to the academy.

Designed to give youngsters a working knowledge of fire service, junior fire academy offers an introduction to the field with hands-on exercises that focus on leadership, safety and a basic understanding of what's going on when they see a fire truck going down the road.

Cadets will spend the week in groups, or battalions, learning basic firefighting skills in preparation for a group competition Friday morning.

Throughout the week, participants will also become certified in first aid, learn forestry firefighting techniques and experience hands-on operations.

Cadet Woody Perry, 13, is returning to camp for the third year.

"I'm looking forward to the experience again this year. Getting to do all this cool stuff, like the smoke house, put out the fires, stuff like that is very cool," he said. "It gives me good experience, and it also teaches you what to do if you're trapped in a fire or what to do if someone is knocked out through the CPR courses."

Assistant Chief Danny Speaks said, more than anything, he hopes the kids have fun.

"We want them to take home the knowledge, but we also want them to have fun. This is a great group of kids we have with us," he said.

The academy runs through Friday and ends with a graduation ceremony at Riverview Middle School, which will include lunch and activities showcasing the skills cadets learned.