Wapakoneta Daily News

Apollo Career Center graduate starts career with Wapak fire department


Within the past month Caleb Schwartz — one of the first full graduates from Apollo Career Center’s fire fighting high school

program — started working for the Wapakoneta Fire Department.

Schwartz had been volunteeri­ng with the Spencervil­le Fire Department for the past two years.

“I’ve always wanted to do something in that field,” Schwartz said,

adding a friend in the fire service turned him on to the program.

Wapakoneta Fire Chief Eric Sammetinge­r said the hardest

thing about getting into the fire

service is knowing what steps to


take to get the certificat­ions to get Possible


“I think Apollo is good because they’ve got a lot of resources and connection­s locally,” Schwartz said.

Classes start with a fire science class, followed by EMT basics. Apollo Principal Tasha Sheipline

said both skill sets are important and essential.

Brock Yingling, who teaches the high school program, has experience as a firefighte­r and EMT and has been a high school science teacher. The program prepares

students for level 2 firefighte­r

certificat­ion and to take the test required for EMTS.

“It makes these young men and women job ready when they graduate,” public safety program manager Jeffery Orphal said of the program.

On the high school side the program has been full and carries a waiting list.

Schwartz himself was on a waiting list and was admitted to the program during the second week. Currently, there are seven students on the wait list.

Yingling said some students realize a fire fighting career isn’t for them.

“I think for Apollo you get out what you put into it.”

Schwartz said. “If you get in there and want to work hard, put in a lot of effort working

at the skills, you come out with a good foundation.”

He said staff do their best

to prepare them. Instructor­s will give advice about how certain techniques or knowledge helped them them in a specific situation.

“He reaped what he sowed,” Jeffery Orphal said, speaking highly of Schwartz’s efforts in the program.

“He gives his best effort,” Yingling added.

Schwartz has spent a month with the Wapakoneta department on a year-long probationa­ry period.

He said during one EMS call he responded to an individual who was unconsciou­s and unresponsi­ve.

“I used the training that I had from my EMT class to help with the airway,” Schwartz said.

While the individual ended up being brain dead, they were able to get a heart

rhythm back and organs were able to be harvested.

Apollo students have about 140 hours of EMT training along with five hours of ridealong with an EMS unit and five hours in the hospital.

“They get training from managing the airway to doing CPR to being able to handle a diabetic emergency, a stroke patient,” Orphal said.

“They have to do actual clinical time,” Yingling said. “They are riding in ambulances they are there at the ER, seeing the actual patients. These kids are in high

school and they are seeing real patients.”

He said classroom discussion­s can develop from those clinical experience­s.

In general it’s fair to say the fire service is struggling with recruitmen­t and retention.

Yingling said there is a national shortage for firefighte­rs, and said it’s a tough job.

“In this job you see the best of humanity and you see the worst of humanity,” Yingling said.

Sammetinge­r knows the retention struggle.

“Most of our guys that are leaving are being recruited

by the bigger cities. Our retention is kind of suffering,” he said.

Sammetinge­r wants to hire people with more local ties who want to stay in the community.

The chief said some of the firefighte­rs who teach at Apollo noticed Schwartz

and wanted to recruit him for the Wapakoneta Department as he was going through the Apollo program. The high school program

could develop into a pipeline for local recruitmen­t.


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