Lake, Minnesota -- They may look like they are playing dress up
in the turnout gear and rubber boots, with helmets a tad oversized
for their heads, but these youth are serious about what they do.
The ten Explorers from Mdewakanton Fire Explorer Post 9100 devote
more than two hours each week learning what fire fighters do. The
Explorers from Shakopee, Prior Lake, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton
Sioux Community range in ages from 14 to 17. All Explorers are CPR
and First Aid certified. Members of the Post also perform public
service such as picking up litter every other Saturday on a section
of County Road 82, along with other Community service projects.
SMSC Explorer Post 9100, which began in September 2003, has ten
members with a a waiting list. Explorers are a national career education
program, which provide life experiences to help youth grow into
the leaders of tomorrow through hundreds of Explorer groups across
the country. Explorers must maintain an overall minimum grade point
average while attending school. They also have attendance requirements
for Explorer functions, and there are elections held for officers
of the post.
Fire Post 9100 attended the 2004 Annual Exploring Banquet a statewide
recognition event in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, in April 2004
where they were awarded "New Explorer Post of the Year"
out of seven new posts 'in the state. Post 9100 was selected for
being the most enthusiastic post, for the dedication of the sponsoring
organization (Mdewakantcn Fire), the adult leaders, and the Fast
growth and strength in the post over a year's time. "The fact
that you are always willing to share ideas and learn from others
is a key element of success in a post, and your post is an, extraordinary
example of what a post should be, though it does not usually happen
in the first year," wrote Exploring Executive Jackie Cadalbert.
Joe Gustafson was nominated for Explorer of the Year by the adult
leaders of the Post "We nominated him for his dedication and
enthusiasm. He's never missed a meeting all year long," said
Post Advisor Jason Melby, a member of the Mdewakanton Fire. Department..
Joe said, "I like that it's a chance to learn a career opportunity,
that its an option if I should ever need one.
May 17, 2004, the Explorers learned about the duties of the different
roles fire fighters lake on at an actual fire, like the Incident
Commander, the Safety Officer, the Staging Officer, and the Sector
Chief. They learned what to do when they reach a fire, the importance
of following directions an d being where they're supposed to be
for their own safety, and about "rehab" where fire fighters
go to rest during an actual fire to recover their strength, cool
off (or warm up during the winter), and prepare to go back out to
fight. They learned the system of using PAR tags (Personnel Accountability
Records) to record their location at all times on a board carried
by the Staging Captain. They then practiced what they had learned
in a drill outside using the hoses, fire gear, radios and the PAR
sessions include putting on fire gear and other the tools of the
trade, using the radios, radio protocols, oxygen masks, ladders,
and about safety hazards. They've also learned basic search and
rescue techniques where their masks are blackened and on their hands
and knees they have to maneuver a small obstacle course to find
things. They've learned hose operations, first aid, and how to take
St. Paul on April 25, 2004, they participated in an X-games event,
a fun competition for different fire posts where the kids did 17
different stations. In this individual competition, they went against
each other on events like ladder races, going up stairs in gear,
and carrying apartment bundles (of hoses). Then two times a year
the Explorers will compete with other Explorer groups from around
the state in team competitions. One of these competitions is at
the state fair. They will compete in a a state team
competition July 24 and 25th at St. Paul's drill tower.
Steinhaus, Doug Nelson, and Jason Melby are advisors from Mdewakanton
Fire. They are assisted by EMT Amy Herby, and Scott Burfeind and
Rick Jonathan from the Prior Lake Fire Department.
Explorers from Shakopee are: Amanda Angrimson, Squad Leader Mitch
Patch, Post Captain/President Chris Strom, and Kayla Wiltse. The
Explorers from Prior Lake are Post Lieutenant/Vice President Brandon
Burfeind, Squad Leader Adam Shambour, and Phil Walczak. The Explorers
from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community are Joe Gustafson,
Jamie Vig, and Natasha Coursolle.
Fire, under the direction of Emergency Services Director Jim Muelken,
is owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community,
a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Minnesota. The SMSC is also
the owner and operator of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Little Six Casino,
Dakotah Meadows RV Park and Campground, Playworks, Dakotah! Sport
and Fit-less, and other enterprises.