Skip to content

Episode 19: The Fire Within – Students Learning to Save Lives

On this episode of the Supercast, we travel to the JATC South in Riverton where Superintendent Godfrey joins high school students who are finding out, first-hand, what it takes to be a Firefighter and EMT.

Unified Firefighter and Fire Science/EMT Coordinator, Taylor Sandstrom puts student skills to the test and we find out if Superintendent Godfrey can make the cut.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Today I'm taking you to the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers, the JATC South Campus in Riverton, where students are finding out first-hand what it really takes to be a Firefighter EMT. Trust me, it's even harder than it looks. I know, compared with you guys, I looked very soft and undisciplined and not ready for this, but are you guys ready to put me through my paces?

Students:
Let's do this.

Superintendent:
So, your instructor can maybe help me with this. Tell me your name.

My name is Taylor Sandstrom.

Superintendent:
And your title?

Instructor:
I'm a Firefighter Paramedic with Unified Fire Authority and currently the JATC Fire Science and EMT instructor.

Superintendent:
That's a mouthful. That's a lot of responsibility,

Instructor:
A lot of stuff on your email closing. We emphasize in any EMT program, besides the skills, what do you need to be an EMT. One of the things you need to do is be active in your community, in educating people about what to do in case of emergencies and how to perform before we arrive. We've found across the country that if we can educate people about hands only CPR, when somebody has a cardiac event and collapses, then our survival rates go way, way up in that five minutes to seven minutes it takes the EMS providers to arrive. If somebody else has already begun doing chest compressions, survival can double. So, we teach in the community, hands only CPR so that people aren't intimidated to just start doing compressions and do them correctly. So they would like to teach you how to do hands only CPR.

Superintendent:
I have to admit that hands only CPR sounds a whole lot better than just regular old CPR.

Instructor:
It is. And we have found that people are hesitant. They take a CPR class every couple of years, maybe, but they don't practice in between. And it can be very complicated. We've simplified it down to push hard and fast and in the center of the chest at 120 beats per minute.

Superintendent:
Now, let me ask you this. I'm a music fan is the "Staying Alive" thing true, that you do it to the beat of standards?

Instructor:
That is pretty good.

Superintendent:
"You Should Be Dancing" or "How Deep Is Your Love"?

Instructor:
Both of those, I believe are a hundred beats per minute. Also, "staying alive" seems to be the right mindset.

Superintendent:
Because really every BG song sounds about the same. You know exactly. Okay. Alright. I'm going to do "Staying Alive". It makes sense. But you know, you could mix it up if you had to is what you're telling me. Okay. So we've got three torsos with heads that seem to be screaming out in internal pain. Is that right? Do I have that right? Okay. Is that the expression part? They're like, no, I'm in pain. Okay. All right, here we go. So should I try this one?

Instructor:
All right.  First, you'd arrive on the scene. The person that you're looking at is going to be unresponsive. But you want to check to see if there's a response in the first place. So you want to say, "Hey, are you okay?" Maybe he gives him a few claps to make sure that sound doesn't wake him up and he's not just sleeping on the ground.

Superintendent:
Right. Okay. Hey, are you okay?

Instructor:
If he doesn't respond, you need to give him a painful stimuli, something that'll wake him up. We call them painful stimulus. There's two though they teach us. You can do a trap pinch, which is just pinched the trap muscle on the end, what they call a sternum rub and you use the second knuckle on your fist and you just rub across the sternum.

Superintendent:
So I rub across the sternum to try to give them a little bit of pain, to wake them up. Okay.

Instructor:
If that doesn't wake them up, probably nothing will. So you probably should start CPR at that point. Something that you want to do before you even start compressions is you want to get people going on the scene. You want to delegate and say, "Will you call 911" and get another person to get an AED? Those are the two things that you need to do.

Superintendent:
Would you call 911 and you go get an AED?

Instructor:
Perfect. Okay.  And then as soon as you delegate to the people that have jobs, you want to start CPR. You want to take your dominant hand. That is what I like to use. You want to take your dominant hand, you want to place the butt of your palm in the center of the chest, right in the center. And then with the other hand, you want to stick on top of that and lock your fingers across them. When you push down, you want to push straight down from your back.

Superintendent:
Okay. Now, can I ask you this?

Instructor:
Yes, of course.

Superintendent:
How can I mess this up? Because that's what I'm always worried about is I did something wrong. I hurt the person. And I think a lot of people are worried about that. So how would I avoid doing something wrong and hurting someone?

Instructor:
So there is a depth. It's two inches or a third chest depth. Right? So that's about this deep, as long as you're pushing down, you're helping if I'm in trouble.

Superintendent:
Yeah. Okay. So I go like this,

Instructor:
So there's some resistance, right? So you want to push down hard and fast. You want to push from your hips and your back, not necessarily bending from your elbows or from your shoulders.

Superintendent:
From my hips and my back.

Instructor:
Yes. So you just want to push down nice and solid. Just push it down.

Superintendent:
Oh, wow. So I'm pushing down and it's giving way. Really. It kind of feels like a chest would give away. That's kind of strange. That's a strange feeling.

Instructor:
Okay, great. As you keep going, you want to make sure that when you push down and you let go, you want to allow the chest to fully recoil, allow it to fully, come back up

Superintendent:
Go back down again. So \that's another thing I don't want to do wrong. I want to let it come all the way up.

Instructor:
We're gonna keep it down here. You want to allow, alright

Superintendent:
Down and all the way up. Yep.

Instructor:
And then as you go, just make sure you're doing 120. Okay.

Superintendent:
Huh Huh Huh Huh, Staying Alive. Am I doing it? The right speed?

Instructor:
Yeah. That's about right.

Superintendent:
Too fast?

Instructor:
Oh, a little faster. Yeah. A little bit faster.

Superintendent:
You can tell by the way my singing, I probably don't know the lyrics after that, but that's a little faster. Okay. Yeah.

Instructor:
And so, if you need a person to switch out, you can get another person to help you and just coordinate and say, "Hey, come switch me out" and just instruct them on how they would do it the same way. And then have them just keep going along with CPR. If you get tired and you switch out.

Superintendent:
Okay. So how do I switch out?

Instructor:
Just count down just three, three, two, two, one. The reason you should stop is if there is an AED present or if EMS arrived on scene.

Superintendent:
I'm honestly feeling like this might be the safest room in the District right now with you guys here. This is awesome. That was so good. I feel like I can do it. I mean, I need to be a little faster. Any other, any other pointers?

Instructor:
Just the sooner you start compressions, as soon as you see a problem, the sooner you act, the better chances the person's going to have it survival.

Superintendent:
Your instructor keeps nodding his head behind you. So you guys have done a great job. Congratulations. That's great. We've saved a life. That feels good. Tell me your name.

Student:
My name is Dax.

Superintendent:
So Dax. What are some of the life skills that you're learning?

Student:
Um, by the end of the semester, we can test for our EMT license and we can become practicing EMTs at that point. And so it allows for really good job opportunities and we really have a straightforward career path.

Superintendent:
Is this something that you want to do as a career?

Student:
Very much so.

Superintendent:
And how about you? What's your name and why are you here?

Student:
Robbie. Um, I really like emergency services. I like trauma and all that stuff. And so this is just a pathway into what I want to.

Superintendent:
Do you like dealing with the tough stuff?

Student:
Yeah.

Superintendent:
So, are you like cool and calm and collected in most circumstances?

Student:
Yeah. When it's like crazy is when I'm coolest. I take a deep breath and just do everything the best I can.

Superintendent:
I'm glad people like you want to do this. Okay. What was the biggest change for you? Obviously you didn't use to be this disciplined. What are some things that you're more disciplined about now that you're in this program? Focusing on homework and home studies?

Student:
Definitely.

Superintendent:
I get the impression that there is no excuse for not being caught up in your classes.

Student:
Just lazy work. If you're not getting your work done, it's because you're lazy.

Superintendent:
Okay. I like that attitude is exactly what we want education to look like, hands-on and the type of thing that doesn't just teach you facts or skills, but the teaches you to be a better person. And that's obviously what you're getting here. So congratulations to your instructor and to each of you for the effort you're putting in.  So should we get into the equipment a little bit is going to be a Fire Science class?

Instructor:
In here, we're prepping, we're prepping students to go to a Fire Academy and become firefighters. Now, here is one of the things to show you.

We're going to do it with you, if you don't mind. People often ask why we set up our equipment the way we do and why we put our boots inside our pants and things like that when we're at the station or even out and around the town, in the in the rigs. When we get a fire call, we need to be able to respond as quickly as possible. And the first part of that is getting dressed appropriately to go to the fire. So we keep our boots inside our pants so that it's faster to get our boots and pants on. We have a fire hood that's made a Nomex that we wear over head and ears, and our coat. We typically call this our bunker set. So we have special pants, special coat, and then a helmet and gloves. Who's demo-ing?

He's gonna get ready, and we have some gear for you.

Superintendent:
Oh, great. Wow.

Instructor:
He's going to slowly go through with it and show you how to put it all on. And then, oh sorry, this is a Cade. We call him Nickel Cade. And then over here we have Sophie. Sophie is going to then show you what it looks like after you've practiced in your full speed.

Superintendent:
Okay. Okay. Now I have to admit ,without taking away from what you're doing here, this looks a lot like my ten-year-olds bedroom floor.

Instructor:
Yes it does. And in our rigs and in our stations, it's not laid out quite this extravagantly. We keep it nice and neat. As you can see, everybody's lockers looks the same when you're here, it's put away. A lot of what we do is team oriented. I'd say firefighting is the ultimate team sport. You don't do very well by yourself. You need your team and your team needs you. So in our class, we emphasize that teamwork and that working together, the ultimate team sport.

Superintendent:
I like that very much. So, is Sophie the fastest?

Instructor:
Sofia is one of the fastest. She is. It's kind of a race all the time. The state standard for firefighters is one minute to put on your turnout gear. Our standard in our class is 45 seconds and some of these guys are in the thirties.

Superintendent:
Holy mackerel. I can tie a tie pretty fast, but I don't think that'll help. Alright, here we go.

Instructor:
All right. Follow along with Cade.

Superintendent:
Alright, so he's going to demonstrate. I don't see myself doing this in 30 seconds anytime soon. You guys can laugh. It's okay.

Student:
Suspender's right here, hanging on the sides. The suspenders, you grab those and throw them up.

Superintendent:
Maybe I shouldn't take the sport coat off, but I'm in now, baby. I'm in now.

Student:
And then you got a button it.

Superintendent:
Wow. I can't wait to see Sophie do this. I really can't.

Student:
And velcro.

Superintendent:
Oh wow. That's very eighties.

Student:
And then click on top of that. Just leave it buckled.

Student:
And I set out my coat is in a way that I can stick my arm in.

Superintendent:
This feels heavy. It already feels heavy.

Student:
And then you to get your zipper and then velcro strap. And then the next up right here comes across, and then you bring your hood and wrap it around the collar and then we clap and then you're done. That's her heel.

Superintendent:
I'm not even very good with your gloves.

Student:
I've been doing that for awhile.

Superitendent:
We're going to take a quick break. When we come back more with Unified Firefighter, Taylor Sandstrom and his students from the JATC.

Sandra Reisgraf:
If you're always looking for opportunities to learn something new, why not join us for the next Jordan Parent University? Jordan Parent University is an opportunity for parents to better understand issues that impact their own students and education. It's an evening class designed to help parents with things like planning for the road beyond high school, better understanding students' social and emotional health and wellness. And knowing who to call when there are issues involving a school or a student. Jordan Parent University is free and open to the public. For a list of upcoming classes, times and locations go to jpu.jordan.district.org. See you there.

Superintendent:
Welcome back. Suiting up in heavy fire gear or bunkers as they call it is really hard. But one student, Sophie, does it better than almost anyone, beating the clock. Every time she even comes in much faster than what is required for actual firefighters. So let's listen in, as she tries to completely equip herself as a firefighter in record time 45 seconds, right? No pressure.

Mark set go. Sophie is killing me. I took longer on the buckle than she's taking on the entire thing right now. She's got her mask on seriously. She looks like she's ready to run into a burning building, like right now. This is not messing around. Wow. 38 seconds. That was awesome. That was awesome. Wow. That is incredible. I have to say, I'm glad I tried it before I watched you. I have tremendous respect for what you just did. It's around 60 pounds of gear. I'll run upstairs into a burning building, dragging a hose out. That is something else.

Instructor:
Our standard, just for all calls,  we want to be out of the station and on the road in about 90 seconds. So some of the stuff, like air pack buckles, we'll be doing that on our way to the call. But we want to arrive again, our standard is five to seven minutes from the time we get the call, we want to be at the incident.

Superintendent:
So, it sounds like they're meeting the standards and exceeding the standard as high school students.

Instructor:
That's my goal. My goal is when they leave here and go to a Fire Academy to get their State Certifications that they can walk in and the skills and knowledge is already in place.

Superintendent:
So tell me, if you're talking to parents or students who might be considering either program, uh, what would you tell them to expect first of all? And then we'll talk about the benefits.

Instructor:
Lots of hard work. These courses aren't about grades, in my opinion, they're not about anything other than showing me your best effort. Working hard, studying hard, having the discipline to be to class on time every day. Just like when you and I go to work, we need to be right on time, every day, ready to go. There really aren't excuses. There might be reasons, but there are no excuse, other than lack of preparation or lack of effort or lack of time in the program.

Superintendent:
I heard students say exactly what you were just saying. That it's lack of effort, lack of preparation. If you're not ready, you're lazy. There's a real work ethic that goes with this. I can't imagine a class that teaches a better work ethic.

Instructor:
I can't speak to other classes. All I can say is that I take my job seriously and people depend on us, right? We are teaching them that. And I tell them on the first day, when someone calls 9-1-1, they're not having their best day ever. They're having their worst. And they have an expectation that whoever shows up will know how to make it better. And that's a very serious responsibility. And I try to instill that in these students, if nothing else, when they leave my class, I hope they know whether this is what they want to do or not.

Superintendent:
What are of the other benefits of being in there?

Instructor:
This class is  a college credit, cheap, $5 per credit. If you take both of these classes, you can get nine for EMT and seven for Fire sScience. You're going to be well prepared to go out into the workplace. And frankly, myself and all of the instructors in this course are full time Firefighter, Paramedics, and EMTs. And this becomes a job interview. It's a semester of interviewing for a job because when you apply, they will call me, if you put me down as a reference, and I will tell them exactly what I think about you,

Superintendent:
Because lives are at stake and you can't risk having someone respond to a call, that's not  ready.

Instructor:
Yes.

Superintendent:
It sounds to me, like you said, sometimes students learn if this is what they want to do by being in the class. Sometimes they learned that this is not what they want to do by being in the class. I imagine everyone takes away lifelong lessons, that they're changed the way they view themselves and the world around them.

Instructor:
Absolutely. You are as some of your experiences.  And this is an experience I think, powerful enough that it will make a difference if you don't want to be an EMT and work on an Ambulance or work for a Fire Department. If you've taken this class, we have taught you some things that are going to be helpful someday in some situation.

Superintendent:
It strikes me that just with the discipline and the skills and the mindset they have, whether they take the job or not, it seems to me like they're going to be in a position to save a life.

Instructor:
I hope so. This summer, I was able to go back to the field and work with some of my students who have been in this class and now work for my department. And it's awesome. It's a super great feeling for me, to see them thrive and do what they train so hard here to do is an awesome experience.

Superintendent:
So tell us, why did you decide to be a paramedic?

Instructor:
That's a long story. My dad and brother were both firefighters. My dad was an EMT. My brother was a paramedic. That was a strong influence in my life anyway, but I also had the misfortune, or fortune, to be one of their patients at one time, they saved my life.

Superintendent:
So you thought, I need to pay that forward. I really admire what you're doing here. Thank you for choosing to be a teacher. In addition to everything else you're already doing, it was my mom's fault. Any last advice for parents of kids thinking about the program?

Instructor:
It takes a lot of time. This program, both of them are half of their day. It's four credits or four classes and appropriately, I send home four classes worth of homework and expectations. So this class will take a lot of their time. But have you guys ever been in a class you liked more?

Superintendent:
I'm going to ask them about that. So you work harder in this class I'll bet, than you do in any other, is that true? You agreed, 100% hardest class, toughest class you're in and it is the toughest class, but it is worth it? For all of you, it's your favorite as well. So how was your hardest class also your favorite?

Student:
I don't know. We have fun working hard and it's not just a class where we just sit down and bookwork all the time. We get to apply the stuff. I think why I think it's fun.

Superintendent:
How about for you?

Student:
I think when it's something you want to do, and it's something you want to learn about, it's still hard work, but it pays off and you like it at the end of the day.

Superintendent:
What would you have to say about liking a class that's so difficult?

Student:
I liked that he shows us real world experiences and we're making a difference by doing this class.

Superintendent:
I can agree with you there. How about you? You said it's very difficult, but it's worth it.

Student:
It just really helped me grow as a person and in my work ethic as well. I really increased my work ethic and, obviously, my discipline as well. And I think that this class has really shaped me as a person.

Superintendent:
Well, if you ever want to work for a children's school district, you all have a job. I'm going to shake your hand. You guys are amazing. Thank you so much for that experience and your good teachers too. You guys got me up to speed. Well, not up to speed in terms of how fast I could put on my fire outfit. What do you call it? Turn-out gear. Fire outfit is probably not the proper term. You guys are amazing. That's great. And I want to thank you guys.

Thanks so much to Unified Fire and their unique partnership with Jordan School District, which is helping high school students pursue a career in Fire Science. This is just one of many hands-on programs offered at the Jordan Academy. It's a program for students who have a passion to help others and save lives.

And thanks to all of you for joining us on the Supercast. And remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you.

Show Audio Transcription
Share the Supercast!