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Catawba Students Learn the Drill as SFD Interns


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 Ransone (right) training with the Ladder 1 crew
on hydrant catches

Several Catawba College students with experience and an interest in firefighting and emergency response are now interning with the City of Salisbury's Fire Department.  Junior Joe Ransone of Selbyville, Del., a volunteer firefighter back home who brought that interest with him to Catawba, and senior Duane Beckley of Salisbury, a U.S. Air Force Guardsman with an interest in both firefighting and emergency response, are learning the ropes at the 200-year-old department.

Although it's not finalized yet, a third Catawba student may soon join the ranks as a SFD intern.

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 Baker

"We intend for our internship program to be an introduction and learning experience for students who are interested in a fire and emergency services career," explains Jay Baker, a SFD Division Chief in the Administration and Safety area.  "Student intern assignments include, but are not limited to, fire department company ride-alongs, training in professional behaviors, job skills, and interpersonal relationships with co-workers, and training in interactions with the pubic during emergency responses and public education events."   

This is exactly the sort of training that Joe Ransone, a business administration major with a management concentration, seeks.

"Back home in Delaware, we only have one fully paid firefighting company and the rest are volunteers," Ransone explains.  "This volunteering goes back generations.  I got into it around age 15 or 16 and I fell in love with it.  Interning with SFD has taught me that every department's different, but each unit and each shift is like its own family; there to get one job done.

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 Beckley (left) working and training with the Hurst rescue tool "Jaws of Life" and the members of SFD Rescue 1.

"It's an adrenaline rush to go out on a call, but they teach us to use caution, and to be aggressive in our fire suppression techniques.  At the end of the day, you always feel good knowing that you helped someone in a brief moment of chaos in their life."

Ransone credits his step-dad and the deputy chief from his fire company back home with helping him understand "that in order for me to distinguish myself, I needed to get a four-year degree."  With his business degree in hand, he'll be able to be an officer at any paid fire company.

"After I graduate from Catawba, I'm looking at going home to get an associate's degree in fire science or to pursue an M.B.A."

Beckley, an exercise science major minoring in biology, wants to go active duty with the U.S. Air Force and "make a career out of it" after he graduates from Catawba.  He's currently in the Reserves and is an aircraft maintainer (electrician), but with a four-year degree and post-graduation rank as a 2nd Lieutenant, he would like to pursue a career in combat rescue or as a cargo pilot.

Beckley, whose SFD internship will help him complete requirements for his academic major, sees the training he'll receive there as "completely applicable to the field" he wants to pursue.

"I hope to get as much experience and insight into how firefighters works on a daily basis and how they handle those stressful situations," Beckley shares.  "I enjoy the psychology of it all because it's definitely a different type of person who wants to run towards a fire rather than away from it."

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 CERT Team: (L-R) Matt Caviness, Joe Ransone, Dolph Kilby

Although Beckley only began logging his internship hours at SFD in January, he's already discerned that it would be a great place to work.  "If plans fall through and I'm not able to go active duty, I'm considering applying to the SFD.  It's a family over there.  They have to trust each other 100% of the time and they've got a great environment, I think."

Both Ransone and Beckley are also members of a new Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) established last fall on campus through Catawba's Office of Public Safety.  Baker serves as the liaison from SFD, while Catawba Public Safety Officer Robert Walker coordinates student involvement, assisted by fellow Public Safety Officer Henry Starnes.  Ransone serves as the chief of Catawba's CERT, elected to that role by his student peers on the team. Other team members include Dolph Kilby and Matt Caviness.

Catawba's CERT provide first-aid and safety training for its members in an effort to create an additional layer of assistance in the event of a bona fide campus emergency.  It also introduces students, who may not have exposure to emergency response, to the concept.