ASHEVILLE, NC – For a week in July at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, 13 youths investigated crime scenes, examined blood spatters, navigated their way through a smoke-filled apartment and practiced life-saving skills during the College’s Camp HERO (How Emergency Responders Operate). The camp, for ages 11 to 15, gave students an introduction into the lives and operations of firefighters, law enforcement officers and paramedics.
Sophia Robinson, 12, discovered what she saw on television wasn’t exactly what happens in real life. “The stuff on TV is way, way different than what police officers actually do. You have to have a warrant for searches,” she said. “I want to become a forensic scientist and work for the FBI.”
The camp was led by college instructors from Fire Protection Technology, Criminal Justice Technology and Emergency Medical Science. “They volunteered their time to give kids the opportunity to experience some of the exciting aspects of our respective fields,” said Elizabeth Nealon, A-B Tech Criminal Justice Technology Instructor. “Local fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies also participated, giving the kids an additional realistic perspective.”
The campers especially enjoyed being able to watch a Haz-Mat robot in action and use a extinguisher to put out a fire. Various emergency responders in the community came by the Hemlock Building to give demonstrations and to show students the tools of the trade, allowing them to explore emergency vehicles and practice CPR in a moving ambulance.
“I wanted to become a police officer and when my mom saw this camp, she told me about it,” said Will Childers, 14. “I have felt really encouraged by this. I found out I truly loved law enforcement. I learned police have to be careful because of the dangerous situations. I also learned to be nice to the people you arrest so they will comply.”
Instructors took the initiative, while sticking to the planned framework of the program’s concept, to remain flexible to address the specific wants and interests of individuals in the group. “As the camp progressed, some self-defense techniques, handcuffing methods and critical analysis of a couple of ‘COPS’ episodes were addressed at camper’s requests, to personalize their camp attendance to them,” said Chris Fay, A-B Tech Criminal Justice Chair. “In what is an evolving camp concept, attendees learn from ‘HEROs,’ and ‘HEROs’ learn from attendees.”
Campers left Friday with a crime scene, evidence and law workbook, fingerprints and sample documents, a firehouse cookbook, camp T-shirt, First-Aid skills and Heartsavers certification.