Emergency responders gather to learn from others experiences

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COLUMBIA - Over 200 firefighters and EMS personnel from across the nation are gathered on MU's campus this weekend, and another 2000 will be joining them online for Winter Fire School.

The 34th annual event, which is put on by MU Extension's Fire and Rescue Training Institute, is a three day training featuring more than 60 different workshops.

"We get students from all over who come in and take these classes," Fire and Rescue Training Institute Special Programs Coordinator Tracy Gray said.

This year, Gray said some of the more popular classes involve advancing the knowledge of those who are already very skilled in their position.

"We have no-brainer management that is being taught by the retired fire chief from Phoenix, which is about fire ground strategy and tactics. We also have EMS classes where people who are in the EMS world are going to learn how to do airway management and learn how to take care of pediatrics," Gray said.

Seven years ago, the event expanded to offer online web cast classes, which officials say allows them to provide better training to all who are looking to participate.

"This allows the students to stay back in their jurisdictional area, and provide the coverage they need for their department and still get trained. We have folks from Denver, Colorado all the way up to Alaska who watch it," Gray said.

While the event focuses on helping to better prepare first responders, officials say the event also gives attendees from across the state a chance to connect.

"You'll have big city fire departments like Kansas City and St. Louis send personnel here, and then you've got guys from Centralia who are sitting next to them networking and bonding and they are making a relationship and it works out really neat that they can do that," Gray said.