Fire and EMS sharpen their skills at annual conference - – Rockford’s News Leader

Fire and EMS sharpen their skills at annual conference


The saying goes, you never stop learning. It's true for area firefighters and EMS members attending a training seminar at Sauk Valley Community College.

Many of the men who attend the 11th Annual Blackhawk Fire Association Conference are firefighter recruits, working to gain experience through hands on exercises.

They spend the day outside for their training. A semi trailer doubles as a classroom. It's portable, sturdy, and most importantly, fireproof.

Instructor Paul Enhelder served on the Chicago fire department for years. He has since retired.

"We're teaching the young firefighters some different knots that in a situation where you have a down firefighter or a down civilian, that we can lower them down a hole, down a caisson in a collapsed building, tie somebody up and get them out of that building as quick as possible and as safely as possible," says Enhelder.

He says he enjoys teaching others as a way to give back to the fire service.  "I had some fabulous wonderful instructors that mentored me, passes along their knowledge, helped me make a difference in the community. As a firefighter, I believe it's very important in the fire service to keep our traditions going , to pass along that knowledge that a lot of us have to share to the younger generation of firefighters."

Some of those who attend the conference already have a few years of experience under their belts, and are looking to refresh their memory

As a firefighter and EMS, Brock Ehlers knows the day may come when he responds to a larger scale disaster. That's why he's preparing now.

"Obviously with the situations that have been more common in our societies these days, Sandy Hook school shooting etcetera. I feel it's pretty important for us as EMS responders to be proactive in the communities. Come and get these trainings and get the experience," says Ehlers.

He says he plans on sharing what he learns with his department when he returns home.

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