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Kids learn skills used by fire and rescue crews
Stafford, Spotsylvania and Colonial Beach students check out the Fredericksburg Mobile Command Post truck during a youth rescue camp at the Fredericksburg Expo Center.
photos by SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/14/2012
Holding on tight to the rescue rope, 10-year-old Dominique Chaves didn't hesitate when she stepped off the roof of the Fredericksburg Expo Center.
Dominique, who said she was sometimes scared of heights, eased along the wall, seemingly fearless of the distance between the ground and her feet.
The helmeted girl was strapped into a harness as she tried rappelling for the first time at a camp focused on rescue squad skills.
"Keep on walking!" fellow campers called out. "Halfway there! Feet apart!"
"It was really fun!" Dominique said, a huge grin spread across her face. The experience entitled her and dozens of other kids to bragging rights.
The rappelling was a new addition for the third year of a Youth Rescue Camp, put on by the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads District 10, made up of squads from Colonial Beach to Madison County.
The parking lot at the Expo Center offered a series of activities to teach kids in the region about how to be safe and what types of skills first responders must learn. Simulations included everything from distracted driving simulation to search and rescue.
Behind the Expo Center, a Fredericksburg ladder truck lifted groups of kids to the top of the building. Firefighters and rescue squad volunteers held the ropes that guided the young rappellers down the wall.
"It doesn't do any good if you don't do it safely," Kelly Southard of Orange County Volunteer Rescue Squad said while demonstrating how to properly hold the rope.
He recommended that participants look at their feet against the wall--not toward the ground.
Bryce Dillard, 10, said the hardest part of rappelling was the first step.
"Your feet are diagonal and you look down and you're three stories up," said Bryce.
Rappelling isn't a skill that rescuers use every day, but Southard says it's something that must be learned and practiced for when it is needed.
Also during the daylong camp, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 learned how to do CPR and use AEDs, or automated external defibrillators. They learned about bandaging, splinting and mass casualty situations. The kids also toured Fredericksburg's Mobile Command Post.
The RV-size vehicle responds to all sorts of emergency calls in the region, particularly those involving hazardous materials.