MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP – Groups of teen fire cadets, dressed in matching T-shirts and shorts, will be gathering at the Enon and Mad River Township Fire and EMS station, 260 E. Main St. in Enon, this Sunday at noon as the local township fire and EMS department hosts its first fire cadet challenge event.
Cadets from Bethel, Pike, German, Springfield and Mad River Townships Fire and EMS Departments will be participating throughout the afternoon in various tactical challenges that will test basic knowledge of their fire and rescue skills.
Cory Scanlan, Mad River Township cadet program advisor, says the annual challenge is always an exciting experience for the cadets and a great opportunity for the teens to develop leadership skills, cultivate teamwork and make new friends.
In years past, the challenge has been a popular event at the Clark County Fair. However, Scanlan noted that a proper venue was not available for the challenge this year.
According to Scanlan, Mad River Township Fire and EMS Department will be providing the judges, timers and support members for the challenge, and the four other township fire and EMS departments will be providing donations and additional support towards the event. Jeremy Linn, director of Clark State Community College’s fire training program, has lent the college’s fire science trailer for the maze challenge.
“The cadet advisors of all five cadet programs have helped in the planning and getting the challenge ready to go,” Scanlan said. “We are all excited about the cadet challenge.”
The challenge is divided into three different categories: the team challenges, the two-person challenges and the individual cadet challenges. Cadets will compete in a variety of events, including a scramble drill, a short maze course, a hose-carrying challenge, a ladder raise, a dummy drag, a low-profile tube crawl and a charged-hose line drag.
“This year we are including a new age group for the cadet challenge, which will be a 13-to-14 year old individual challenge,” Scanlan said.
Scanlan pointed out that the cadets from all five township fire and EMS departments have trained well for the annual challenge, and the skills they have perfected have a practical application for when the teens become firefighters.
Knowing how to properly put on turnout gear as quickly as possible, according to Scanlan, can mean the difference between losing a building or not. Cadets will face the challenge of properly suiting up in turnout gear, which includes a helmet, coat, pants, boots, gloves and suspenders, as quickly as possible during the scramble drill.
As a way to test their tolerance for being in dark and enclosed spaces during a blaze, cadets will crawl through a maze in a dimly-lit trailer while wearing their turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
The cadets will work as a team picking up a rolled-up, 50-foot section of hose and carrying it 50 feet during the hose carrying challenge. They will also apply teamwork raising a ladder that is lying on the ground to a vertical position and then lowering it back down during the ladder raise challenge.
During the dummy drag competition, cadets will drag a 120-pound dummy a short distance to evaluate each cadet’s ability to physically manage the removal of an unconscious victim from an unsafe environment to safe refuge.
The cadets will also experience the sizes of spaces firefighters often encounter during a fire by crawling through a 10-foot tube that is 23 inches in diameter during the low-profile tube crawl challenge.
During the charged-hose line drag event, the cadets will drag a charge section of hose to a designated area then open up the hose line and knock a ball off of a cone using the hose stream.
Scanlan said an award ceremony will follow the competition, and plaques will be awarded to the first-through-fifth place recipients of the team, two-person and individual challenges. The first-through-fourth place winners of the 13-to-14 year old individual challenge will receive medallions.
“We also have a traveling plaque that the winners of the team challenge will take with them and hang in their fire station for a year and will bring back to the challenge next year,” Scanlan said.
Scanlan feels that bringing the five groups of cadets together for the annual event encourages personal growth for the teens, and raises the bar for the future fire fighters.
“We hope the community will come out on Sunday and support the cadets,” Scanlan said. “We are really looking forward to the event.”
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.