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Local students participate in Public Safety Challenge

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

On Monday, more than 70 McDowell high school students are taking part in a unique day of competition and exhibition.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to see and get a feel for what they’re going to have to go through to get hired on,” said Stacy Buff, director of the Law Enforcement Training Center at McDowell Technical Community College.

The event, called the Public Safety Challenge and Expo, is designed to help students prepare for a career in emergency services. The students are part of the fire, EMS and law enforcement program at McDowell High, and some say they plan to head to McDowell Tech after graduation.

They can see the equipment first responders would use every day, up close. The challenge course includes obstacles that simulate on-the job scenarios.

The students complete some portions weighted down with gear, then race to the next step. It pushes them both physically and mentally as they tackle tasks they could encounter as a firefighter, law enforcement officer or EMT.

In another room students had a lesson in gun safety, firing paintballs for practice.

Students said the challenge helps them see what skills are needed for the job.

“This helps me realize all the physical strengths that I have to have,” said McDowell High student Zoe Vance, who is considering a career in law enforcement.

More than 30 local agencies have representatives and resources on site as part of the event.

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