ROP course shows Modesto teens how to crack into cars to help crash victims

naustin@modbee.comMay 8, 2013 

    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin

— Fire science instructor Bob Watt ended the exercise with a bang. Three bangs, actually, per student. As the hapless Dodge Neon stood beaten, satisfied seniors pummeled it with axes and oversize hammers.

It was a noble end for the white compact, giving its last to train a team of teens in the Davis High Regional Occupational Program about auto extrication using the Jaws of Life and simpler tools. Another white car sat facing the carnage, with what might have been a grimace on its grille.

Its turn came next.

"It's really fun just to demolish the car," said sen-ior Justin Saenz, who plans to go into a fire science program at Modesto Junior College in the fall.

Saenz took part in the Every 15 Minutes program last week at Davis, where the pros rip teens out of a staged wreck. "I saw the real guys do it. It was impressive," he said.

For Enqueatte Parker, it was a chance to see how to help patients, such as covering trapped passengers to shield them before breaking the glass.

"It's not just focusing on firefighting," said Parker, who plans to enter the medical field. The course was a look at first-responder reality for her, but it also taught her a thing or two about being assertive when surrounded by guys.

"There's about five (girls), but some of them are kind of shy. It's better to speak up," she said.

The exercise was sobering for young driver Tyler Rowe. "It makes you think a lot," he said, staring at the wreckage. "I hope I never have to be in a car where this happens."

Nathan Adair grappled with a different dread. "That's my mom's car — exactly like her car!" he said. Hers was in a lesser wreck, he said, but close enough to be a little eerie.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin,

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