Students in Protective Services Program Get Valuable Insight Into Airport Safety


In April 2024, two-dozen high-school students studying Protective Services at Warren County Career Center took a roughly 80-mile, 90-minute road trip west to the Erie International Airport (ERI) for a day of insight into airport operations, specifically those related to safety and security. 

Hosted by the Erie Regional Airport Authority (ERAA) — the governing body of ERI — the event included presentations by the Transport Security Administration (TSA), airport police, and ERAA Executive Director Derek Martin. During the airfield operations portion, students got a close-up look at the airport’s aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) trucks and equipment. Following lunch served at the airport restaurant, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spoke to the students and gave them an inside look at the air traffic control tower. The day ended with a presentation from Fundamentals Flight Training and North Coast Air.  

“The Erie Airport allowed our students to interact with local emergency services, police, and fire response, in addition to the federal agencies of TSA and FAA, all in one location,” said Michael Noe, the course’s instructor. “Students saw the seamless integration of each of them as part of the airport’s daily operations. This experience allowed the students to see the textbooks and lectures come to life, theory vs reality.”

Located in Warren County, PA, the Warren County Career Center (WCCC) is a public vocational-technical school which serves the four high schools (Eisenhower, Sheffield Area, Warren Area, and Youngsville) that make up the Warren County School District. Students in grades 10-12 have the opportunity to devote one-half of each school day toward studies at the WCCC.

Covering careers related to law enforcement, firefighting, EMS, corrections, Hazmat, and communications, WCCC’s Protective Services program is a three-year course of study where students receive training and education in the judicial system, equipment operations, emergency assessment, and emergency treatment and achieve certifications in CPR, AED, First Aid, Basic EMT, and Telecommunications that can be used toward a relevant career.

After visiting nearby Bradford Regional Airport in the past, Noe was looking for a larger airport that offered additional services so he could give students a more comprehensive experience. ERI and Executive Director Martin were eager to oblige his request for a visit. 

“Through the tour of our facility and presentations from our safety-related departments, it was our pleasure to give these students a behind-the-scenes look at all we do to keep Erie Airport and its visitors safe,” said Martin. “Hopefully, we provided a valuable real-world experience that adds to their knowledge of the public safety field and might even lead some of them on a career path to the aviation industry.” 

After the visit, several of the students spoke highly of their day at the airport: 

“It gave us the chance to understand the inner workings of an airport and employment options to help direct our education,” said 11th grader Finn Romanoski. Tegan Yucha, Captain, who’s in grade 12, said, “It was an opportunity to see what most people don’t.” 

“Fun and educational, we got to see behind the scenes of an airport,” said 10th grader Kaitlyn Zuzzio. “This opened my eyes to a different aspect of public safety and employment opportunities,” added 11th grader Kailinn Tuszynski. 

The mission of the Warren County School District and the Warren County Career Center is to equip all students with the educational skills necessary to achieve their unique personal potential. The Career Center helps achieve this mission through hands-on learning that reinforces the understanding that learning equals earning.

Besides protective services instruction, WCCC also offers courses in auto body collision, automotive technology, building construction, IT, early childhood education, electronics, food production/management, health/medical assisting, machine technology, multimedia marketing design, pre-engineering, and welding. 

All WCCC programs are articulated with programs at the Pennsylvania College of Technology and attending students can often attain Advanced Placement credits with other post-secondary institutions in the tri-state area.