GREENFIELD, Ind. — Alyvia Parker always knew she wanted to be a firefighter.
"I want to be an EMT firefighter, like a paramedic. I think that would be really cool," said Parker as she took off her fire-resistant hood, still wearing her incident gear and boots.
Parker joined more than a dozen students from Greenfield-Central Junior High School for a two-day teen academy learning how to be a firefighter or an EMT.
"I've always been interested in stuff like that, and just to like feel the experience of stuff you can actually do when you're an actual firefighter. This camp is amazing," Parker said.
Organizers are hoping to gain more interest in joining the ranks.
"Department applications have gone down everywhere, so we're trying to spark that interest," said Luke Eichholtz, with Greenfield Fire Territory. "We're trying to get those little kids interested in firefighting like in the old days where everyone wants to grow up and be a firefighter, and this is a great way to give them a taste."
Eichholtz said the fire territory has already had a cadet program for years but started a teen academy a couple years ago as a way to recruit.
On a sunny Thursday afternoon, teens watched as firefighters demonstrated and explained how they extricate victims from a vehicle using heavy machinery.
Teens also got to experience going into a foggy training tower, while learning how to carry a hose, put out any hotspots and find victims.
"It was kind of chaotic at first because when you're the ladder crew and there's an engine crew in there, you've got to find a way to get them out of the way, so if there is, like, a victim, you can get them out, too," 12-year-old Ethan Anderson said of his favorite challenge. "Going through the confidence course was a little bit scary because you had to go through tight spaces, and when you put the pack on, it made it harder because it changed which way you had to go."
They also learned how to communication under pressure.
"You have to communicate with your partners because if you don't know where they are and if you come out and there is a man down, there could be a man down, you could lose somebody," Parker said.
On Wednesday, teens got their CPR certification, bleeding-control training and basic first-aid training.
"That's also really great because if you have a family member and you're at home and something happens, you know those things, and it's really helpful to save somebody," Parker said.
Eichholtz said the need for more first responders is great.
"Fires aren't going away. Medical runs aren't going away. We get busier every year, so having young people interested in doing this that come out of high school ready to be firefighters and EMTs and go to paramedic school is crucial to keeping our station staffed and trucks with trained people on them," Eichholtz said.
Anderson wants to become a firefighter, just like his dad.
"He used to take us to the station all the time, so I've just grown up around that stuff, and it was the way I wanted my life to go," Anderson said.
Parker, who comes from a family of doctors, said she wants to keep her family tradition going.
"I've always been interested in stuff like this. I've always wanted to help people, like, I help people all the time. It's like my favorite thing to do," Parker said.