Letter: Expectations were exceeded during fire academy

Recently, the Cedar Rapids Fire Department held the inaugural “Fully Involved: Young Women’s Fire Academy.” The academy was designed for young women ages 15 to 19 and was led by all women. On behalf of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department Fully Involved Academy team, we would like to thank Fire Chief Mark English, Assistant Chief Curtis Hopper, Assistant Chief Greg Smith, Fire Marshal Vance McKinnon, and Public Safety Communication Coordinator Greg Buelow. Special thanks to Kim Smith for designing the Fully Involved logo and to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, KCRG, KWWL and KGAN for covering the academy and helping to spread the word about a program we are so passionate about.

Fully Involved was an amazing experience for all who participated and the community support was incredible. We want to thank the following organizations: Bruegger’s Bagel on Mount Vernon Road, Outback Steakhouse, Carlos O’Kellys East, and Fire House Subs on Collins Road. Your food contributions helped nourish these women through a physically strenuous four days of continuous activity.

The academy was designed to expose young women to the career of firefighting. It provided an opportunity for young women to build not only self-confidence, but a sense of teamwork and responsibility while learning about the role a firefighter has in the community. Throughout the week, participants were able to learn about many of the skills needed to succeed in the career of firefighting. They experienced hose handling, search and rescue drills, and various emergency medical services (EMS) skills. The young women trained with extrication tools, ground aerial ladders, forcible entry tools, and they became certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

The young women who participated in our first academy exceeded our expectations, which were very high. We look forward to next year’s academy; the bar is set for summer 2018.

Cheme’ Fairlie, captain

Amy Kunkle, EMS program director, firefighter/paramedic

Julie Popelka, firefighter/paramedic

Janeen Justice, firefighter/paramedic

Megan Wichmann, firefighter/EMT

Nicky Stansell, CRFD public education

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