Students get a lesson in emergency response

The hours are long, but the week is short. That's how some of the 25 students taking part in the city's first RCMP Youth Academy describe the week of training that draws to a close Friday.

And for Valleyview secondary student Vanessa Krug and Westsyde secondary student Dylan Scott, the 16-hour days have confirmed police work is the career for them.

"I wanted to see if I was actually capable of doing this stuff," Dylan, a Grade 11 student, said Thursday. "I'd definitely do this for a living."

As would Vanessa, although she would like to be one of the officers working behind the scenes, say taking fingerprints.

The students have sampled a variety of police training since arriving at the former Westsyde elementary building on Sunday. They've tried their hands at interview and polygraph skills, defensive techniques and making high-risk vehicle stops.

Dylan got to wear a bite suit and was chased down by a police dog. He said the suit had enough padding that he barely felt the dog grab his arm and take him down.

Vanessa finds that hard to believe.

"From a bystander's perspective, it was scary," she said.

A seminar early Thursday afternoon focused on the emergency response team. It began with a video about the RCMP's group of highly trained officers who use specialized weapons and tactics.

A flash of light and concussive boom from outside shattered the quiet of the darkened classroom following the video. When the startled youths turned and looked out the window, four armed ERT members rushed through an opposite doorway.

"Get on the ground," the men screamed.

The distraction is one of the techniques ERT employs when storming a building and taking down a suspect, one of the officers explained.

"I jumped," said one of the students.

After a brief presentation, the class was led into the next room where the teens got a closer look at the gear the members wear.

That was followed by an exercise using the students as protestors. The RCMP's tactical squad was brought in to break up the protest.

Const. Cheryl Bush said the week has been busy but rewarding. The plan is to hold a second youth academy next year.

A graduation ceremony takes place at the school today from 1:45-2:30 p.m.

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