Apprehending a suspected felon, rappelling down a six-story building and extinguishing a structure fire are all in a night’s work for the Explorers of the Huntington Beach Search and Rescue program.
Teens and young adults involved in HBSAR demonstrated these public safety skills on Thursday during the program’s annual open house at the Joint Forces Training Center.
“It’s just nice to show people what we do,” said Explorer Taylor Caldwell. “It’s hard to explain … and this helps people understand.”
HBSAR started 50 years ago and developed into a program that trains participants in four areas of public safety: police, fire, marine safety and search and rescue.
Explorers who make it through the grueling three-month academy, tests and interviews are considered an integral part of the Huntington Beach public safety team, said program coordinator Joel Petersen.
This year’s participants worked DUI checkpoints, provided security and traffic control for large city events and played a key role in four major police investigations, Petersen said.
At Thursday’s event, the community was offered a glimpse into all the Explorers do.
“This is the one time a year we open this to the public,” Petersen said. “We want parents to know why their kids were chosen … and why they’re coming home late on Thursday nights.”
Dozens watched as the Explorers navigated the drills with the ease and confidence of any public safety professional.
“I was very impressed,” said Pamela Mohr, whose granddaughter Kayla Raygoza is an Explorer. “This takes dedication and determination. I just think it’s a great program.”
The event also highlights the excitement of the program, which proves an effective way to solicit new recruits.
“My grandpa was a firefighter and my neighbor is a firefighter and they tell me all the positive things about the job,” said Gavin Springer, 17, who is considering signing up for the academy. “It sounds interesting and all of it looks pretty cool.”
The highly-competitive program is open to applicants ages 15-18 with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Once accepted, Explorers can stay in the program until age 21.
The next parent information night will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 4, and the next academy kicks off Sept. 18.
For more information on the program visit www.hbsar.org.