If a wildfire breaks out, Keveon Galan knows what to do.
The Hillhouse High senior (pictured) knows how to find emergency victims, and how to reach them safely. He learned those skills as a member of New Haven’s Public Safety Academy Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Galan was one of 12 students to graduate from the public safety school at a ceremony Tuesday at the fire academy on Ella Grasso Boulevard.
The academy prepares high school students for future careers as firefighters, giving students the opportunity to join the fire department at age 18.
“We learned medical fire safety and when it’s appropriate to run in,” said Galan. He said he also learned how to conduct search-and-rescue operations.
Galan, who aspires to be a firefighter, said he plans to attend the University of New Haven or Gateway Community College. He said he wants to study fire science or fire administration technology.
Three years ago, firefighter Lt. Gary Tinney and program director Bill Garrity joined forces to create a program to engage youth and prepare them to have careers upon graduating high school.
Tinney (at left in photo) said he was inspired by programs in cities like as Cleveland, Ohio, and wanted to bring the same opportunity to youth in New Haven.
“I saw numerous programs in other areas; 90 percent of the kids went on to higher education,” stated Tinney.
Tinney, who grew up in New Haven, is familiar with the needs of the people in the community.
“It’s a matter of exposing the kids” to new opportunities, he said. At the end of the year, participants will have new items to add to their resumes.
Instructors said they consider Tuesdays’ graduates to be the best class yet, based on their motivation and self-presentation.
“It’s been a fight,” Tinney said. “It’s important. We have a lot more work to do.”