By Sherri Coner
Because White River Township Fire, Bargersville Fire and Greenwood Fire departments serve communities so close in proximity, they are often called out for mutual emergency runs. They also share resources.
Knowing this, a completely new idea came about in April, when 22 new hires for the close-knit firehouses required training.
To handle training for such a large group, it only made sense to think outside of the box.
That is how the Johnson County Joint Fire Academy came to be.
In many ways, the idea made a lot of financial sense, said Corey McGaha, White River Township training safety chief.
With this approach to training, all three fire departments could share expenses for instructors, McGaha said.
Providing knowledge from all three fire stations was also an important value.
“It was the first time we’ve done a joint training for hiring,” said McGaha, who has been with White River Township Fire for 23 years. “But it went great.”
During this intensive month-long training, new hires started out in a classroom setting to learn about completing reports after emergency runs.
When it was time to teach them about and practice how to extricate someone from a vehicle crash, helpers in the county showed up.
Graham’s Wrecker Service in Franklin donated two vehicles as well as a location for trainees to practice this life-saving skill.
When trainees needed to practice even more skills in a live fire, Mike Duke, a Bargersville builder, provided the structure.
Along with those intense training efforts, fitness training, search and rescue, rope and water rescues as well as learning about all hazardous chemical spills. EMS skills were also an important aspect.
Even though the new hires trained together, they returned to the stations where they were hired.
Knowing each other is always a win, though.
They will likely work some emergency runs together in the future.
Comradery is seen among all firefighters, no matter which station they work in, said Tammy Christie, administrative assistant at White River Township.
As McGaha looks at the big picture, this was not likely a one-time approach to training.
“I think this is just the start of what’s to come,” he said. “We figured out how to work together.
and we can do more with training concepts.”