Estancia High students get a feel for firefighting

With 30-pound suits on their bodies and a 50-foot long hose hanging over their shoulders, Estancia High School students were geared up Tuesday morning for their annual Fire Day in the campus parking lot.

The one-day event, which began at the school about three years ago, gave sophomores in Estancia’s introduction to medical professions class a chance to literally walk in the shoes of a firefighter.

The class is one of several courses offered by the Estancia Medical Academy, a program that gives students instruction, training and exposure to various health careers.

Estancia Medical Academy teacher Hayato Yuuki — who spent years as an emergency medical technician with the Anaheim Fire Department and as a trauma technician for UC Irvine’s medical school — led his medical professions class as they tried on the firefighting suits and equipment on Fire Day.

Yuuki said it’s a day a lot of students in the medical academy look forward to, so he had his class waste no time Tuesday morning.

The students first took turns doing a bunker drill, a task where they had to put on the firefighter boots, pants, jacket and helmet in one minute.

Sophomore Sienna Humes comes up with two words to describe wearing the firefighter gear — heavy and hot.

“It takes a lot of energy just to run with all the gear on,” Humes said. “It looks like it’ll be a simple task, but you learn pretty fast that it’s not.”

After suiting up, the students took turns carrying a 10-pound hose and a 30-pound air bottle over their shoulders while dashing up and down the parking lot.

“Let’s hustle! Lives need to be saved!” one classmate yelled during this exercise.

The Estancia Medical Academy has been running at the school for five years and Yuuki, a credentialed Coastline ROP teacher contracted with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, has been teaching under it for all five.

In its first year, the academy consisted of just one class with 25 students for Yuuki. It is now a program with over 200 students in courses from terminology to sports medicine.

For many students in the medical academy, a day like Fire Day is a taste of what they hope to do in the future.

“I want to pursue a career in the medical [field] and be an orthopedic surgeon in the army,” sophomore Juana Santoyo said. “This class has been teaching me how fast certain things need to be done and how everything needs to be completed by a certain time.”

Fire Day concluded with a friendly competition between sophomores Hector Camarena and Alex Epperson. The final task consisted of a race to do push-ups, swing down a sledge hammer a certain number of times and drag a 150-foot long hose 50 yards through the lot.

When the two took their positions for push-ups side by side, they shared a fist bump before the competition commenced. Yuuki said the drills are also a part of Fire Day to inspire teamwork.

“When they watch their friends doing these drills or they’re doing them together, it really pumps them up and brings life to what they’re learning,” Yuuki said. “One of the most beneficial things about the academy is that it gives a chance for the kids to open their eyes to the careers that are out there.”