EAST COUNTY — As East County Fire Rescue’s Lt. Kim Luther strapped on her helmet and other gear, she knew the challenge ahead would be grueling, even if there were no real fire involved.
Training moments like this one would help prepare her for whatever real-life situation may arise.
“It’s an awesome challenge,” Luther said, as she readied to hoist a roughly 60-pound hose over her shoulder and carry it up four flights of stairs, among other obstacles. “It shows your strength, your determination. It’s a teamwork thing, too. There’s other firefighters cheering you on, whether you work with them or not.”
Luther and dozens of firefighters, first responders and students going through Manatee Technical Institute’s related academies, tested their physical endurance and agility Nov. 10, during the MTI Alumni Association’s First Responders Challenge, at MTI’s Lakewood Ranch campus.
Each agency — fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services — set up agility courses at which their respective recruits and personnel could compete.
The public could watch the competition, while also learning about each agency, seeing Bayflite’s helicopter and watching related demonstrations.
“It’s a great way to recognize the first responders and the tough jobs they have to do,” MTI Alumni Association President Mike Bryant said. “It really brings home how hard their job is every single day. It deserves a lot of respect.”
Participants said the day’s activities provided valuable training and preparation for work in their respective fields.
“It teaches you not to give up and push through everything,” said Colby Martin, a student in MTI’s Law Enforcement Academy, after completing a rigorous course. “It’s life or death out there, and you have to be ready for it.”
Proceeds from the challenge benefited the MTI Foundation, which provides scholarships for tuition, books and uniforms for MTI students.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].