Scottsdale first responders hold public safety academy for teens

Dozens of potential future first responders in Arizona just wrapped up a week of learning about what it takes to serve the community.

It was a public safety academy geared for teenagers, and many of them say they now want to be officers and firefighters when they grow up.

Nicholas Greenban is one of 30 teens that took part in Scottsdale Police and Fire's Public Safety Teen Academy.

"It's a career path, and it's really interesting all the things they do to help people," Greenban said.

The best part of his week? High speed pursuits.

"Slow and steady wins the race," Greenban said. "Take it slow around the corners, and right when you take the corner, full speed and catch up to the bad guy."

For 15 years, Scottsdale first responders have shown kids how police and fire work together to tackle challenges.

"They get to climb a ladder, use a fire extinguisher, go through a smoke-filled building [to] find their way through the smoke, lift a giant concrete slab, and rappelling from the side of a building," said Lori Schmidt with the Scottsdale Fire Department.

Caden Gutman is 16 and wants to be a police officer.

"I've liked doing all of the police stuff, going into buildings, searching it…all of this is really cool," Gutman said.

That kind of response is music to the ears for Lori Schmidt. She knows filling first responder positions has been a serious challenge, so getting potential future officers and firefights engaged early is important.

"We really want to instill the idea early, plant that seed early that this is something they can do," Schmidt said. "We just have to build the character, confidence early that they can do it."

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