A student government project at Kenai Central High School could lead to new certification for first responders with Central Emergency Services.
Senior projects for high schoolers can be fairly self-serving affairs. Get the thing done so you can graduate and move on. But what if what you’re planning to move onto could be made better WITH your senior project? Cue Jessica Roper, a senior at Kenai Central. The goal of her project is to make emergency responders better prepared and better trained with swift water certification.
“Basically, it gives firemen the ability to go out into the open water and rescue people in emergencies. It gives them the ability to work around boats, it gives the rope abilities so they can retrieve (people) and basic water rescue essentials that you need,” Roper said.
The end goal is to raise enough money, $13,000, to bring in a specialized trainer from Haines to train two dozen first responders from around the Peninsula. Dick Rice is his name, and he trains rescuers all over the state. I couldn’t get in touch with him in time for this story, but according to his website, alaskarescue.com, it’s a three day course that provides theoretical and practical knowledge of the basics of swift water rescue. That includes how to deal with water-related medical emergencies, basic boat-based rescue concerns and techniques and basic moving water self-rescue techniques.
Getting all of this set up would seem to be a pretty tall order for the average high school senior, but Roper had already made a strong connection with Central Emergency Services.
“About three years ago, I was introduced to this program called The Explorers Program after I was talking to my neighbors about my interest in the paramedic field and firefighting. So they sent me over to the station and I filled out some paperwork and started going to these weekly meetings where they would show you all of the equipment on the firetrucks, how to use it, how to put on gear.”
It was more than just a tour and a demonstration, Roper says. She got to have a taste of the full experience of what it’s like to be on-call.
“You just kind of hung out with a crew of four and you’d go on calls with them. They’d teach you how to treat a patient, how to fight fires, how to do your homework,” she says with a laugh.
And that experience is what made her interested in pursuing this as a career.
“They encouraged me to go into EMT 1. I took that course and ended up passing, so now I’m just kind of waiting to further all that knowledge and go on to paramedic school.”
She says her friends at CES were pretty excited about the project.
“I’ve had a lot of support from them. Not only CES, but Kenai and Nikiski and Bear Creek. All of these departments and all of these people have found out my name and contacted me in some way to show that they support my idea and that they’re there.”
To help make that $13,000 goal a reality, Roper is organizing a fundraiser on October 26th from 1-4 p.m. at the Kenai Vistor’s Center. There will be a meet and greet with local firefighters, a silent auction, spaghetti feed and, as it’s a Halloween theme, she says costumes are encouraged.