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Eleven newcomer youth now have a taste of what it's like to be a Winnipeg firefighter and paramedic.

An annual week-long training camp that includes career skills workshops and teaches newcomer youth about scenarios faced daily by firefighters, paramedics, and 911 communications operators wrapped up today with a friendly skills rodeo.

"It's great here, learning new things, new skills. In the past week we've learned how to use the fire safety equipment, how to escape from a location if it's on fire," says 18-year-old Alireza Haidari, who is from Afghanistan and has been in Canada for almost seven years.ffcamp2Alireza Haidari

Today's skills rodeo was a timed event in which participants had to complete tasks such as hitting targets with water from a fire hose, unraveling and re-wrapping a fire hose efficiently, and simulating resuscitation on a patient.

The Equity and Diversity Camp has been running for eight years; since 2014 it's been organized in partnership with Newcomer Employment and Education Development Services. Mayor Brian Bowman calls it a great way to engage the newcomer community, as well as potentially provide career opportunities with the city.

"I hope some of these students ultimately are able to pursue a career in the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, but even if they don't, it's really that relationship building with our newcomer community," says Bowman.

Participants in the program are walking away with CPR and First Aid certificates, Safe Workers of Tomorrow training, and fire safety and extinguisher training.

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