East County — East County Fire & Rescue hosted its annual Citizen's Basic Fire and EMS Academy last month. Seven participants learned the responsibilities of firefighters during the all-day event, held June 22 at Fern Prairie Fire Station, north of Camas. Academy volunteers were invited to take part in an eight-hour ride-along with firefighters and a four-hour "sit-along" with 911 workers. They handled a simulated resuscitation of a cardiac arrest victim, cut cars apart using specialized equipment and extinguished "live" fires in the same vehicles. East County Fire & Rescue serves nearly 9,500 residents in the 60-square-mile unincorporated area north and east of Camas and Washougal. While the agency's budget has dropped year-over-year since the recession, Fire Chief Scott Koehler said in a press release that staffing has grown thanks to aggressive volunteer recruitment.