A future firefighter among the flock


Photo Submitted by Samuel Bakchaus

Junior Sam Backhaus cuts a gusset for support in a collapse drill where a car drove into a home. Backhaus has completed many rounds of firefighting training and has had a fair amount of experiences going on calls. “ I have my state certified Basic Firefighting Degree,” Backhaus said, “through the State Fire Marshall Office.”

Among the students walking the halls at WHS, there is one student in particular who risks his life every day to serve his community with the Marthasville Volunteer Fire Department .

Junior Sam Backhaus, who is the son of the Marthasville Volunteer Fire Department Chief, has been doing training for over three years, but he has grown up in the fire station as well, where he soaked up a wide range of experiences. 

 “Every Wednesday we have training of some sort, and the second Wednesday of every month there is a meeting  and we have specials training and get calls. I get to go on calls, assist at the scene and help the people in need,” Backhaus said. 

A call at the fire station can range from a “cat in a tree” or fire to vehicle accidents and water or ice rescues. Backhaus puts his life at risk every time he jumps into a truck to go on a call. Sometimes the team even goes onto a call not knowing the exact logistics of the incident they are responding to, putting him and the team in even more danger.

“I hurt myself because I had just had knee surgery and I was on crutches and I went to a vehicle accident with rollover with entrapment, and I crawled down the embankment to help and I hurt my knee again. I probably shouldn’t have done that,” Backhaus said.  

Backhaus goes on many rescues with the department. He is ice rescue certified, meaning he can go on ice rescues, and also gets to witness MVA’s (Motor Vehicle Accidents). At the scene of the accident, he and the team must work diligently to get the victim out of the vehicle safely and in a timely manner. In some cases, the victim is trapped in the vehicle and the rescuers have to find a way to get them out. 

“Entrapment is when they are trapped in the vehicle and we have to extricate them out. We have to bring the big ol’ jaws of life and pry open the car or cut it in half,” Backhaus stated. 

His involvement with the fire station means Backhaus has witnessed many gruesome accidents and has aided in stabilizing the victims. 

“This past summer we had a really bad couple of days; we had three deaths in under 36 hours. The first call was a MVA with rollover with entrapment and injuries,” Backhaus said. “I actually worked the person in the back of the ambulance the whole way to the hospital. I did chest compressions the whole way there, along side the medics and another firefighter.”

Before becoming a full member firefighter, you must go through many training courses and practices along with receiving the EMT or Paramedic and complete other physical tasks to make sure you are cut out for the job. You must complete fire one, which is the basics on how fire works and how to run fire departments, then you must complete fire two, which is how to pitch a ladder, how to attack a fire and how to pull a ceiling. After you have all of your credentials, you must go through the physical exertion test called a “C-PAT,” which stands for “Candidate Physical Ability test, which will measure you ability to handle the strains of being a firefighter. Backhaus has completed much of his training, but he must retake these courses once he graduates high school and returns to the fire department to become a career firefighter, which Backhaus is looking forward to.

“At the atmosphere the firehouse is much different, you could compare it to a high school football team,” Backhaus said. “Everybody gives everybody crap and it call comes down to being a family.”