During the recent “Every 15 minutes” program at Firebaugh High School, which vividly simulates a serious DUI-related car crash, Firebaugh High students not only participated as “victims”, but also as first responders.

Several members of the Firebaugh Volunteer Fire Department’s Cadet Program responded to the wreck.  According to Firebaugh Fire Chief John Borboa, the cadet-first responders treated victims with simulated injuries, extricated a victim from a damaged car by completely removing the car’s roof with hydraulic equipment, and assisted ambulance personnel in loading one victim with simulated major injuries to a Skylife helicopter.

It is all part of Firebaugh’s highly successful program that has been in place for 25 years, Borboa said.

The current roster of cadets lists five high school students plus two more who graduated last June. They range in age from 14 to 18 years old.  Once in a while, Borboa will allow cadets as young as 13-years-old, “depending on my perception of their maturity.”

The students train with the regular members of the department in Firefighter 1 curriculum and First Responder First Aid and EMT skills. The kids also receive additional training every Saturday evening and must complete two sleeper shifts per month at the fire station.

“The high school students must also maintain a “C” average in school, which is checked with the school every semester,” said Borboa.

Hector Marin, an 18-year veteran of the department, assists Borboa in the cadet training.  He explained that his main goal is to train and keep the volunteer department’s legacy going for many years to come.

“The kids in our program have responded very well to our training and develop skills that they have used to save lives and property in our community,” said Marin.

And unfortunately, he received first-hand knowledge of how well the training has paid off.  Last month, a drunk driver rear-ended his pickup in Firebaugh with his young son on board, just a couple of hours after finishing Saturday evening training.

“Their performance was a great feeling to see that all the hard training the cadets have gone through has worked,” said Marin.

He added that it is also gratifying to some of the cadets have moved on to make firefighting/rescue a full-time career.

In that respect, the program can definitely be called a success, since several members have moved on to full time jobs.  They include: Firefighter/Paramedic – City of Vacaville Fire Department, Firefighter/Captain – Cal Fire, Paramedic Shift Supervisor American Ambulance, EMT – City of Selma Ambulance Service, Firefighter/Engineer – North Central Fire Protection District, Paramedic – Ambulance Service in Texas.  Seven of the current members also came through the Cadet program. 

David Borboa