School district teams with county in emergency response training

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School district teams with county in emergency response training

Michaelle Bond Inquirer Staff Writer Last updated: Thursday, October 8, 2015, 1:08 AM


The Public Safety Training Campus in Chester County opened in May to provide hands-on training for fire, police, and emergency medical professionals.

Now, aspiring first responders in the Octorara Area School District, which serves parts of western Chester County and Lancaster County, can be added to the list.

Octorara Senior High School's Homeland Security and Protective Services Program is partnering with the county so its students can use the state-of-the-art equipment and tactical village as part of a pilot program.

County and school district officials said they plan to expand the program to include other school districts as early as next year. Students who complete the three-year program earn college credits and are certified firefighters. They also can complete certified emergency medical technician training.


Kimberly Olseski, a 17-year-old senior who has been in the program since it started three years ago, wants to work in law enforcement and said the program gives her a taste of being a first responder.

"It's teaching me to think about how my choices affect other people and teaching me to put other people first," she said. "It's teaching me a great amount of respect for people who are in this field."

Officials in Chester County based the new partnership on a similar program in Lancaster County, and the Octorara Area School District agreed to pay the county $13,500 per year to use the training campus.


The 15 students in the program this year go to the training campus, in South Coatesville, for a few hours in the morning and take their other academic classes in the afternoon.

They also are required to volunteer at their local fire departments, which have seen a decrease in volunteers.

"Fire stations in the county are really looking for a way to recruit younger individuals. But the thing is retaining them," said Beau Crowding, the county's deputy director for fire services. "It's rewarding to me to see the enthusiasm for public safety training" among the students.

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond


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