While spending a day in the home of first responders, Madison La Follette High School students got an authentic glimpse into emergency techniques and strategies.

La Follette ninth-graders kicked off the inaugural youth preparedness public service career day on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the recently-opened Fitchburg Fire Station No. 3. Coinciding with National Fire Prevention Week, the UW Health-sponsored event came at the request of the Madison Metropolitan School District as a way to inspire interest in emergency response careers.

The Center for School, Youth and Citizen Preparedness, a Lodi-based nonprofit, ran the program with assistance from members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Heart Association.

Mary Jean Erschen-Cooke, the center’s executive director, told the Star the event was to “not only introduce the students to emergency response professions, but also (teach them) how to take care of themselves, others or their family if an emergency or disaster would occur.”

For the first activity of the day, representatives of FEMA put together an interactive “extreme event” game tasking students with responding to a variety of emergency scenarios on game boards.

The second phase of career day consisted of three rotating stations. At “teddy bear triage,” students assessed the wounds of stuffed animals that were strewn across the pavement outside the fire station.

Students also learned splinting and bandaging techniques from American Heart Association members, while a course on emergency incident command helped prepare kids for coordination in log roll and blanket carry games.

Following lunch, the ninth-graders mingled with several first responders from Fitchburg and Madison, whose assorted emergency vehicles quickly became overrun with curious students. The career day then ended with a mock disaster exercise.

The Center for School, Youth and Citizen Preparedness will hold a five-day camp next summer for more intensive exposure to emergency response career fields.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.