Saturday, September 09, 2023

Camp Courage fires up young women about careers as first responders

Hannah Colwell, 17, spent one of the last days of her summer vacation a little differently than your average teenager: dressed in heavy firefighting gear and sawing off a car door to save someone.

Colwell was trying to rescue a "victim" in the wreckage of a mock drunk-driving crash in Saint John - and she wasn't the only one.

The recent St. Malachy's High School graduate is one of 12 young people who responded to the simulated crash to cap off their time with a first-responder training camp, offered as an expansion of a similar Nova Scotia program run by the non-profit Camp Courage, The First Responder Society.

The four-day camp, which took place at the Saint John Fire Department's training site, was designed to introduce female and gender-diverse individuals between 15 and 19 to traditionally male-dominated first-responder fields.

"It felt right," Colwell said after the crash simulation. "It felt like what I should be doing, I should be helping people."

Participants at Camp Courage  were introduced to the basics of policing, firefighting and paramedicine — with hands-on activities such as basic police defence techniques, CPR, breaking windows with axes and vehicle extraction.

"We got to try on the [firefighting gear] and stuff," Colwell said. "So we just started with breaking glass and opening up the cars and saving the victims."

09/09/2023 Nipun Tiwari/CBC 

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