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Teens live dream of learning tasks tied to firefighting

July 27, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

MARION, PA. - The Marion Volunteer Fire Company calls it Dream Weekend. But the objective for firefighters and emergency technicians is to avoid real-life nightmares.

Company 8 hosted the fourth annual Dream Weekend on Saturday, teaching 19 area youngsters some basic lifesaving techniques that the volunteers have mastered through years of practice.

The youngsters were trained in CPR and learned how to use a fire extinguisher. They also learned how to use the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic rescue tool, and put out a fire by simply using water, both with a hose and the "bucket brigade."

"The concept of the weekend is to enlighten the younger people of what it's like to be in a fire station," Deputy Fire Chief Todd Sites said. "The hope is that when they turn 14, they will become members of the junior fire company."

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Four of the six members of the junior fire company attended Dream Weekend in the past. Ryan Cloutier, 15, is one of the junior members who didn't attend because he moved to Franklin County from Fort Belvoir, Va., in October.

"I didn't start getting into (firefighting) until I was about to move up here," Ryan said. "I saw (volunteers) working in accidents and house fires and stuff, and I thought it was pretty cool."

Ryan said he will be a firefighter "on the side," but first will join the military, as his father did before becoming a police officer.

Kelby McGinnis, 11, of Marion, also might follow in his father's footsteps.

"He was a part of the fire company here," Kelby said of his father, Patrick. "I only live right up the street, so I came right down."

When using the Jaws of Life, the goal was to pick up a raw egg causing as little damage as possible for a chance to win a prize. Kelby crushed one of his eggs.

Lauren Koontz, 13, of Greencastle, Pa., did the best job and won a $25 gift card.

Lauren came for the weekend with her 13-year-old cousin, Scotty Kline, also of Greencastle.

Scotty's favorite part of the weekend so far?

"The water," he said. "I have a big interest. I just went to (a fire station) once, and I started liking them."

The turnout is the largest in the brief history of Dream Weekend at the Marion station. The company got the idea from West End Fire and Rescue in Shippensburg, Pa., which held its 11th Child's Dream Weekend in June.

"They were the first company in the United States to put it on," Sites said. "As far as I know, we're the second."

The free weekend, open to youths between the ages of 10 and 14, continued Saturday evening with bowling at Nellie Fox Bowl and a movie at the fire station.

Graduation will be today at noon.

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