SAC Fire Science Cadets Donate Water to Hurricane Harvey Victims

September 6, 2017

Russell Guerrero - Public Information Officer

As a long-time firefighter and a captain in the City of Castle Hills Fire Department, Joe Hernandez has helping people deeply ingrained in his nature.

Learning of the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey on the Texas Coast, Hernandez, who is also an adjunct instructor in San Antonio College's fire science program, thought about starting a relief effort with cadets in the program.

"We are trying to teach the cadets leadership and giving back to the community. Being a first responder, you always want to give back," he said.

Hernandez worked with Daniel Reese, the coordinator of the First Responders Academy - the facility where the cadets train in Atascosa - who is also the program coordinator for SAC's fire science program. They decided to challenge the students to bring cases of water to help storm victims. 

Fire Science Hurricane Help 2

They brought their challenge to the three classes of cadets currently in the program (two classes are composed of SAC students while a third class is made up of students from Edison High School.)

The cadets immediately accepted the challenge and took it a step further. They said they would bring enough water to fill a trailer at the academy. 

Hernandez and Reese then left it to the cadets to work out the details. 

"We were all eager to help. We got in this profession in order to help others," said Andrew Lopez, a cadet captain in charge of students in his class. 

"When we got this challenge, many of us said this is a really good idea but no one took the initiative to organize it," recalled cadet Linda Busch-Mendez, who agreed to act as the project coordinator for the donation drive. She helped calculate just how much water needed to be collected to fill the trailer, which came out to three cases of water for each cadet. She also kept track of who donated water.

While the cadets brought water, Reese contacted the San Antonio Food Bank, which was looking for donations to help people displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

The cadets met their goal by collecting 130 cases of water weighing in at 2,600 pounds. The idea of loading it on the trailer was replaced with a better idea of loading it in the hose bed of a fire engine. Later Hernandez and Reese drove the fire truck to the food back where they received many surprised looks and several chuckles from volunteers not used to seeing donations on the back of a fire engine.

Rick Marical, the cadet captain for another class, said he was proud of what they were able to accomplish. "We take pride in everything we do. Our job is to take care of people during their worst times. And that's exactly what we did, even though we are just cadets."

Hernandez has already decided this will not be a one-time project.

He saw large, red donation bins at the food bank and wants to request the cadets fill a few of them with food items that can be given during Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.