Gahanna and Mifflin Township first-responders gave safety tips to Gahanna Lincoln High School seniors last week, helping them prepare for scenarios such as escaping from a burning building and an active shooter situation.
"We want students to be able to anticipate potential emergency situations and to make decisions quickly," said Fred Kauser, Mifflin Township fire chief.
"This will be the first time some of these young adults will be living on their own, and we want to raise their awareness level of potential threats to their safety and how to respond -- that gives them the best opportunity for survival," Kauser said.
Melissa Rapp, Mifflin's public-information officer, said the graduating seniors participated in a series of activities on May 15 and 16 at Station 131, 475 Rocky Fork Blvd.
The students rotated through stations focused on how to operate a fire extinguisher, how to escape from a burning building and surviving an active shooter scenario, in an effort to learn vital life-saving skills.
She said this marked the first year the active shooter component was added to instruction, using "Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate" procedures with training from the Gahanna Division of Police.
"These students are now young adults who will be making decisions that have adult consequences," said Lt. Mark Hendricks.
"The kids generally respond very well to the program," he said.
"I tell them that in an emergency, it's commonplace to fight, flee or freeze. We are giving them the tools to fight, and hopefully, to survive in an emergency," Hendricks said.
One station, the "bucket brigade," was a water-bucket relay race to teach seniors the historical way of fighting fires and how far fire service has advanced.
Mifflin Township Division of Fire has partnered with Gahanna Lincoln for more than 30 years as part of the school's state and local government curriculum unit.
The classes were made possible with assistance from Gahanna Trailer Service, which donated propane to use with the fire extinguisher trainer, on loan to Mifflin by the Washington Township Fire Department. Columbus State Community College provided materials for the bucket brigade.
According to the Center for Campus Fire Safety, since January 2000, 91 fatal fires have been documented as occurring on a college campus, in fraternity or sorority housing or in off-campus housing within three miles of a campus, claiming a total of 128 victims.
Of the 91 fires, 14 were intentionally set, claiming 22 victims, and 38 were accidental, traced to cooking, candles, smoking or electrical issues, claiming 51 victims. Thirty-nine of the fires were of undetermined cause, claiming 55 victims.
The Mifflin Township Division of Fire serves about 36,800 residents in the city of Gahanna and 4,000 residents within the unincorporated township.
The division operates four fire stations, employing 80 full-time firefighter-paramedics, six fire prevention and inspection officers and 24 dispatchers.