999 call for students

First ever joint services academy in UK launched in North Devon

THE first ever 999 Academy in the UK that gives young people exciting opportunities to learn and train alongside all four emergency services has been launched in North Devon.

The cadet style scheme brings together the police, fire, ambulance and coastguard to offer 16 to 18 year-olds a unique behind the scenes look at the work of the emergency services to help inspire them, develop new skills and greater confidence.

Co-ordinated by Petroc, it is the first time ever that such a wide ranging multi agency course has been attempted, featuring Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, the Maritime Coastguard Agency, the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust plus Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.

It is hoped the Academy could become a model for authorities across the country to follow and is especially topical as politicians debate about recent unrest and how to engage communities.

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But North Devon is already way ahead of the game with an initiative that has been two years in the planning and is now ready to go.

It starts on Wednesday, October 12 at the Petroc Sticklepath campus in Barnstaple and 15 places are available on the 30 week course, which will be held every Wednesday evening from 6-8.15pm.

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Applications must be in by Friday, September 9 and chosen applicants will go on to a selection event on Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19.

The successful 15 will each receive a uniform and be introduced to a whole new world and an exciting packed syllabus which will include visits to local police, fire and coastguard stations to join in with training and practical exercises.

Those completing the course will gain a First Aid qualification and also get to study some of the aspects of the emergency services others won’t see, including road traffic collision reduction, radio procedures and missing persons and scene of crime.

Louise Laing, the 999 Academy co-ordinator at Petroc, said in time it was expected the students would begin to assist the emergency services at some public events such as fetes or parades, to give them real practical experience.

“They really are going to get the opportunity to do some unique activities,” she said.

“It will give them skills for employment and life skills that will benefit them and their communities. If they are thinking of a career in any of the services it will give them a real inside look at what goes on.

“The mission statement of the Academy is to provide knowledge and skills for individuals by raising aspirations and promoting a positive image using the core values of respect, inclusion, education, safety and community.

“The scheme promises to be great fun but will also be physically and emotionally challenging at times.

“This has the potential to be huge. It has never been done before and we are setting the standards and templates right here in North Devon for something that potentially could be rolled out right across the UK.”

Application forms are available on the 999 Academy website at www.petroc.ac.uk/999academy together with more information about the Academy and what it offers.

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