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.