MONROE, Mich. — Like many industries coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, public safety departments are still trying to fill their staff rosters.
To that end Bedford Township's Fire Department held its annual Mock Disaster Day on Saturday to prepare a handful of young candidates for life out in the field.
The event took place at the Monroe County Fairgrounds.
Bedford and Monroe's Township Fire Departments, Michigan State Police, Northville Fire Department and Saline's Police Department all came together with their youth programs to train in these mock scenarios.
Bedford Township's Fire Chief Bob Vanklingerin said his department has put on these mock trials for over 20 years.
"Right now, we're down on numbers, so that's a big thing and the other thing is just trying to get the youth to see if they even like this field," said Vanklingerin.
The simulations include tending to an injured person with things like cut fingers, cardiac arrest as well as dealing with structure fires.
On the law enforcement side, the groups practiced situations like trespassing all the way up to a shooting and dealing with protests.
The candidates are as young as 14-years-old and run up to age 21, training in the field they may work in some day according to Mock Disaster Day organizer and advisor of Bedford Fire Explorers, Brittany Seger.
"You can see the lightbulb,' Seger said. "It happens, you can see that they're really learning and they're really enjoying what they learned."
Nathan Ziemann and Ethan Boulter are thrilled to be getting hands-on experience.
Boulter just graduated high school but started as a Saline Cadet when he was 14 with dreams of following in his dad's footsteps.
"I think the hardest part of today was having to cooperate with other agencies. It was just a bit of a hiccup. It was something we never had to do before, but I would not have wanted to do it alone. It was a blast," said Boulter.
Ziemann's been in Saline's program for about a month now, and is proud to get a head start on a career.
"If we choose to pursue a field in law enforcement, we already know this knowledge, we can continue that and already be a step ahead of everybody else," said Ziemann.
For more information about these programs, contact your local police, fire, school district or Boy Scouts of America.