AFD Explorers extinguish 20 teams at state fair
If you can't stand the heat...you're not an Explorer.
As the sun blasted Minnesota State Fairgoers in 90 plus degree temperatures, Alexandria Fire Department Explorers suited up in firefighter gear in the intense heat to execute and excel in skills tests. The 2013 AFD Explorers earned fourth place in the 15th annual Governor's Fire Prevention Day Explorer competition in St. Paul.
Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Karrow said the group far exceeded his expectations.
"They work really well as a team," Karrow said.
Alexandria's Explorers are sophomores and juniors in high school. Karrow said they are the most athletic group to come through the program. Each Explorer is either a two or three sport athlete.
The Explorer competition is hailed as the state's largest fire prevention gathering and serves as a capstone production for senior Explorers.
EXPLORER MATCHES IGNITED
At 3 a.m. the morning of August 23 the Explorers boarded a bus and headed for the state fair to compete against 23 teams. There are 343 Explorers in Minnesota; nine comprise Alexandria's squad. The 2013 crew includes three members from last year, Kendon Koep, Quinton Nienaber and Aaron Steidl.
Explorers competed in five categories: CPR/AED, extrication, ladder raise, search and rescue room search and public speaking. Points are awarded for accuracy, speed and knowledge. A mere 1.43 points separated the first through fourth place Explorer teams. Alexandria missed third place by half a point.
The CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) portion is a new addition in 2013. AFD's Explorers received a perfect score. Another perfect score was earned in the search and rescue room search — Alexandria's team completed with the fastest time. During the room search, four Explorers enter a room to locate a victim, a 200-pound "Rescue Randy" mannequin. Face pieces are blackened to mimic a smoked out room.
AFD's Explorers were the only team to remember to chock tires in the extrication exercise; scoring as one of the top two teams. Extrication entails spinal immobilization to remove and back-board a victim from a vehicle and perform patient care.
The ladder raise requires four Explorers to extend a ladder and carry a hose up its length. One point was deducted in the knowledge area for inability to identify the "dogs" of the ladder (the parts that secure it at a certain height).
The final event is a 3 to 5 minute public speaking engagement in which the Explorers used props to spell out "Before you go out, blow it out" to emphasize the importance of extinguishing candles. Their theme was candles and open flames.
AFD Explorers earned 6th place in 2011 and 3rd in 2012. Karrow predicts they will be in the top tier next year. The Explorers were accompanied to the competition by their parents and Explorer advisors Lt. Chris Johnson, 2nd Asst. Chief Tom Partington, Fire Chief Jeff Karrow and Fire Marshal Dennis Stark.
Explorers train with the AFD on the first Monday of each month. On the fourth Monday, Explorers run their own drills. Sophomores and juniors interested in becoming an Explorer can contact the fire station at (320) 763-6488 or attend a recruiting event held at the high school during open lunches in October.