Students from around the Panhandle and members of the general public were invited to spend the day with first responders from more than 40 agencies around the state, and one crew from North Carolina.
Most of the agencies were there for a couple of reasons: To introduce young people to the jobs available in their departments, and to scope out potential recruits in the crowd. One of the event organizers said there were some on-the-spot conditional hires made that day.
And the Florida Highway Patrol may have accomplished something more, as well. The agency had a mock DUI checkpoint set up, letting students ride a pedal car through a pattern of traffic cones, outfitting them with special glasses that simulated the view from the perspective of a driver under the influence. They also put those glasses on visitors who dared to walk a chalk line wearing them. The exercise may have enlightened more than one individual taking part in the exercises as to the dangers of impaired driving.
Several agency representatives said they were very pleased with the students’ apparent interest in the jobs they had to offer. This was Chipola’s first career fair focused on first responders. With its success, this won’t likely be the last. Many first responder agencies across the nation have often expressed difficulty in recruiting workers to the field. When many applying for such jobs during the fair Thursday, such events could become an important funneling opportunity.