Corbett Blackman, a senior at Hood River Valley High School, has been awarded West Side Fire Department’s Student Firefighter of the Year award. This is the second time he’s received the distinction.
He will be recognized at the firehouse’s annual awards ceremony in February.
Blackman is president of the HRVHS student firefighters club and has been a student firefighter since his sophomore year. Students must be 16 years old and have their drivers license before they’re able to volunteer.
“My mom is an ER doctor in The Dalles,” he said, “and I’ve always been exposed to first responder/ER life. It’s always been interesting to me.”
The award is based on criteria such as participation in calls, he said.
“Student firefighters can go on all of the calls the fire department gets aside from calls on I-84,” he explained. “Most of the calls we get are medical — not as many are fire. We get everything from public lift assists to fully involved structure fires.”
Students are not allowed to leave school to respond to calls; they are additionally not allowed to respond to any calls that happen at the high school.
Blackman earned his Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) certification last winter and is now allowed to more fully participate in calls.
“Starting off, especially my first year when I hadn’t taken any classes, it was more of a bystander role, watch and learn and observe,” he said. “As you participate more, you learn more and are able to start helping more in calls, instead of being there as extra manpower.”
As president of the student firefighters club, he leads meetings twice a month during school hours. All student firefighters in the area — including those with Wy’East, Parkdale and Cascade Locks — are members and participate in various fieldtrips and practice burns with advisers.
Last year, students went to Portland to tour — and ride — a fireboat. This past fall, they participated in a practice burn that included drills and “pulling a house line” (setting up and charging a hose and then spraying).
He sees his service as a student firefighter as a way to give back to the community.
“It can be very rewarding when you run a call successfully,” Blackman said. “And usually, when we see people, it’s one of the worst days of their lives, so helping them can be extremely rewarding when we do a good job.”
HRV Club Adviser Wendy Herman is grateful to all of the fire departments for hosting and working with student firefighters — as well as the students who volunteer in this capacity.
“It’s a great group of kids who volunteer their time to be part of the fire departments, she said.
Blackman additionally participates on HRV swim, water polo and track and field teams — he was part of the boys varsity water polo team that took a first-ever first place state champion title in 2019 — as well as a member of the school’s First Robotics Challenge (FRC) robotics team, competing at the Worlds robotics tournament, held in Houston, for the past two years with teammates on A105 Annex.
He plans to attend Montana State University next fall and major in either mechanical engineering or bioengineering; if he goes the bioengineering route, he will continue on to med school with the goal of becoming an ER doctor.