Camp shows teens the life of public safety

F.A.S.T. Camp shows teens the life of public safety

OROVILLE, Calif. - A unique summer camp for teens in Butte County offers a week-long look into public safety careers.

F.A.S.T. Camp, or Fire Safety and Training Camp, is sponsored by the Butte County Fire Safe Council in conjunction with various other area public safety organizations.

Many of the 20 students, like Chico's Aspen Chilcutt, are interested in what it takes to become an emergency responder.

The 17-year-old Fairview High School student was in PE class when her teacher asked if any volunteers wanted to do F.A.S.T. Camp.

Already interested in joining law enforcement as a forensic anthropologist, she says she jumped at the opportunity.

"I heard that it was about police officers, EMTs and fire so I've already been through that and stuff--I've been in police academy--so I thought it would be cool and decided I would go," Chilcutt said.

On Tuesday, the teens got a glimpse into the lives of Butte County sheriff deputies, particularly SWAT members, at the Openshaw Training Center in Oroville.

Among other things, the students were given the chance to check out an armored vehicle and see officers handle a fully automatic rifle and other SWAT weaponry.

"The coolest thing I've probably seen is the helicopter and the flash bang," said Chilcutt.

To give the teens an idea of what it takes to become a Butte County sheriff's SWAT team member, they tried on deputies gear, equaling dozens of pounds, and attempted pullups--none of them could complete one.

For 17-year-old Paul Freidas of Magalia the lesson taught him how much hard work and physical strength it takes to be SWAT.

"These guys are all really big and burly. They're just built guys; all-around Heinz 47," Freidas said. "They can run faster than most, lift more than some guys and do more pullups and pushups than I think any other of us can."

With that in mind, Freidas says he'll stick to his goal of joining Fish and Wildlife rather than try out for SWAT.

But F.A.S.T. camp isn't all about law enforcement. Earlier in the day the teens learned how to clear defensible space around homes on The Ridge. That helped them learn a little about forestry management from a firefighter's perspective.

On Monday, they learned about EMT work and earned CPR certifications.

Fire and Safety Training Camp will wrap up Thursday and Friday with two days learning what it takes to be a firefighter.

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