Newcomers to U.S. try on uniforms, learn about fire equipment
"Fuego" is the Spanish word for "fire." But without the knowledge they gained at a recent ESL safety program, some CMS students might not have known how to effectively communicate such a threat in English.
The July 27 event at East Mecklenburg High School gave about 65 high school students who are learning English as a second language the opportunity to brush up on basic English and learn important -- and potentially live-saving -- emergency skills.
The safety program is one of several demonstrations held this summer that are designed to familiarize ESL students with important aspects of American life. To qualify for the program, students must have received an interruption in their formal education and have low test scores. Many participants are refugees who have only been in the country for a short amount of time.
"They've got a gap in their education," said Nancy Bulloch, an ESL teacher at East Meck.
Previously, students took a trip to the post office and visited with officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Firefighters from Station 3 of the Charlotte Fire Department started the one-hour session in the East Meck cafeteria by demonstrating how their uniforms and helmets work.
They dressed one student in full gear, which weighs about 35 pounds, and then held a competition between a firefighter and a student to see who could put on the uniform fastest. Vi Ro Lan, a 16-year-old native of Vietnam, was only seconds behind his opponent.
The program continued in the auditorium, where firefighters demonstrated how they use thermal cameras to find victims who become trapped in dark buildings. Students attempted to locate Rick Parker, coordinator of auxiliary services at East Meck, by identifying his body heat with the camera in the dark auditorium.
Outside, firefighters let students examine the firetruck and ask questions about the equipment.