A class of D.C. Fire and EMS cadets honed their CPR skills, prepared for their EMT certification tests and welcomed the District's fire chief as he paid them a special visit to discuss the importance of the program and the life-saving skills young adults learn while there.
Three years ago, one of those cadets, Jashawn Evans, found himself in the back of a D.C. ambulance after being shot. The defining moment led to a realization for Evans, who was just 16 at the time.
"I was shot standing on my porch talking to a few of my friends," he recalled. "Seeing something happen to me, it was kind of like a shock. You think you're a good person, you think everything you're doing is right, but then something random like that happens to you. It makes you really realize that life is real short."
After graduating from Ballou High School and with his gunshot wound behind him, Evans decided he wanted to give back to his community.
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
"I feel like I could save lives or be that person who was there for me when they had to rush and come get me," Evans, a resident of Southeast D.C., said. "Being a D.C. firefighter will actually help my community."
Now 19, Evans will take his EMT certification test Wednesday — and be another step closer to completing the cadet program.
Since 1986, the D.C. fire and EMS cadet program has graduated more than 400 firefighter EMTs. The year-long program is open to high school graduates in the District between age 18 to 22. Cadets are paid about $30,000 a year while in training. After they graduate, their annual salary jumps to roughly $55,000.