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469 First Responders commemorate RCC’s 50th Fire & Rescue College Anniversary

It’s not every day that you get to celebrate a hallmark anniversary, but earlier this month, 469 first responders did just that.

The 50th Southeastern Fire and Rescue College was held from February 7 through February 11 at Robeson Community College. As promised, smoke filled the air at the Emergency Services Training Grounds as first responders from across North Carolina trained together. Firefighters, EMS, and police officers also gathered at the main campus in Lumberton for training on how to use hoses, water pumps, and tanks, ladders for house rescues, and there was even a new class offering – the use of drones for aerial footage.

There were lecture-based classes for those interested in becoming a fire chief or those whose roles involved having to conduct fatal fire investigations.

“We offered 32 classes this year,” stated Robert Ivey, the director of emergency services training at RCC. “We hope that our attendees gained a lot of hands-on training to improve their skills and better serve their community during the 50th Anniversary event. The seminar hit a significant milestone and we advertised it as such.”

Those who train together, band together as was evident from hands-on training. First responders could be seen relying on each other to problem solve, resulting in quick action, as time is always of the essence in emergency situations and scenarios can change very quickly.

Take Kinslee Morgan with Pembroke Rescue. It was her first time attending the conference, but she learned a great deal training with other first responders in the area.

“I took Extrication 101,” Kinslee stated. “It was the only class that I went to, and it was really good…. I learned how to move vehicles and safely extricate patients. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken.”

Kinslee works with the Crash Team at Pembroke Rescue. She earned her EMT credential at Robeson Community College through a short-term training class offered by the continuing education division. This training, she says, provided real-life scenarios that will help her throughout her career and potentially help save lives.

“I definitely want to come back, it was a great experience,” Kinslee stated. “Before I went I was not big on extrication, but now it is one of my favorite things and I am looking at taking more classes in the future.”

“My boyfriend went the previous year and talked about how much he loved it and that it was a good experience,” Kinslee said.

Kinslee’s boyfriend, Bryson Hunt, works as a firefighter with the Lumberton City and Deep Branch Fire Departments.

“We both took the same class and trained together, it was a great experience,” Kinslee said.

Kinsley’s boyfriend, Bryson, works on an exercise in extrication of patient during the 50th Fire & Rescue Conference at RCC.

Tyler Snipes, a volunteer firefighter with the Howellsville Fire Department enrolled in Live Fire Leadership during the 50th anniversary event. It was a class with students from several departments – Shannon, Rowland, Cherokee, Pembroke Rural, Carolina Beach, and more.

“I really loved it, it was very hands-on and the instructors brought the training to life,” Tyler stated. “It was one of the better classes that I’ve taken in Fire Services, teaching us what needs to happen, when. It was all very realistic.”

Tyler says he looks forward to attending again next year.

“I would greatly recommend the training to anyone,” stated Tyler. “They had some of the best instructors come here.”

Also attending the Live Fire Leadership class was Keith Kornegay with Cherokee Fire and Rescue.

By all estimates, Keith is the one first responder who drove the farthest to the fire expo.

“It was my first time attending in several years,” Keith stated. “I got the mailer advertising the seminar and saw that RCC was bringing in a team from out-of-state to teach the class. Since I could take the class within the State of North Carolina, I signed up for it.”

“It was definitely worth the drive,” Keith said. “I had a very good experience; the instructors were well organized.”

During the training, Keith says he learned different program leadership methods and techniques.

“I would highly recommend the Fire and Rescue College at RCC to others,” Keith said.

Ivey says that’s good news to hear, as the college plans on continuing the event for many years to come.

“We will be offering the same format as the previous 50 and we plan on offering more hands-on training in the future,” Ivey stated. “Fire and rescue are becoming more specialized, as emergency response is becoming more technical and advanced… so the need for training will continue to grow.”

This year’s conference at Robeson Community College experienced an increase of 13% in attendance compared to the event held in 2023 with 414 students. If you compare data from 2022’s expo in which only 325 first responders attended, there was a 44% jump in attendance this year.

“The Fire and Rescue College is continuing to rebound from when Covid hit,” Ivey stated. “We hope to see the numbers continue to rise each year.”

Since the first seminar was held in 1975, Ivey estimates that between 20,000 to 25,000 first responders have trained together at Robeson Community College. A major accomplishment indeed, in the education of fire and rescue personnel and the communities they serve, throughout the State of North Carolina.



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RCC's 50th Fire & Rescue College Anniversary
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