The Owensboro Convention Center hosted over 800 firefighters and EMS professionals this weekend. The Bryant Stiles Officers School was hosted by the Green River Firefighters Association Feb. 22-24.
According to Airport-Sorgho Fire Chief Pat Thompson, the GRFA covers eight counties across the state, including Daviess County.
“We’ve been putting this event on for 30 years,” Thompson said. “We were the longest-running tenant at the Executive Inn. We came back here in 2015, so this is the fifth year in a row it’s been held at the convention center.”
The Bryant Stiles Officers School offered 31 classes over the weekend, and those who attended were able to register for the seminar-style courses they felt would best benefit them in their specific line of work.
“We’re offering classes that are leadership-based, and they’re open to everyone,” Thompson said. “We’ve got over 800 students from over seven different states. We’ve got instructors from all over the country.”
Thompson said around 250 of the 800 attendees came from the eight-county area that GRFA covers, meaning the convention hosted at least 550 firefighters and EMS professionals from surrounding regions of the state and country.
The convention also held one of the largest fire/EMs-related vendor shows on Saturday night, from 4-9 p.m. This vendor showcased some top-shelf fire and EMS equipment, and departments and individuals alike could peruse the options for potential future purchases they might make for departmental or personal needs. Door prizes and activities for children were also included in Saturday night’s event.
Thompson said classes ranged in size depending on how many had signed up for each one.
“Some of the classes are smaller, and they have 20 to 25 people, but a couple of the classes are over 100,” Thompson said. “They have 17 classes a day, and some of them just gain more interest than others.”
Some of the different classes offered included “Operating in the Danger Zone: Mass Shooting and Direct Threat Operations,” ”Emerging Issues Facing Your Fire Department,” “Mental Health First Aid for Fire and EMS” and “Leading and Managing Your Fire Department.”
According to Thompson, attendance numbers were very good for the weekend-long event. In fact, both hotels on the riverfront were booked, and several attendees had to book their stay at other hotels across the city.
“They’ve been very receptive to this event. We don’t quite have enough hotel rooms to take care of the out-of-town guests,” Thompson said. “The two hotels were full downtown. They’re working on that third hotel, though.”