WEST (CBS 11) – Eighteen graduates walked the stage, all newly certified volunteer Emergency Medical Technician’s for the town of West.

The standing ovation was for people who should have been there.

Classmates, Perry Calvin, Jerry Chapman, Cyrus Reed, and Kevin Sanders, were all firefighters who ran out to respond to a fire at the fertilizer plant three months ago.

Minutes later, classmate James Robison, heard the explosion.

“Every single person in this class, was out working with patients, whether it was ripping nursing home doors down and using them as backboards or whatever,” said Robison.

That horrifying night students learned how hard their job could be and how dangerous.

Not a single one quit the program.

“No, actually, I think it pushed us harder. I think we just wanted to go on for ourselves and for them,” said Destiny Coleman.

The families of the four fallen firefighters received honorary certifications, and friends struggled to hold back tears.

“Emotion… it gets us all some time,” said Robison.

Emotion also drives this class forward, leaving them all the more determined to serve a community that needs them.

“We’re here. We’re volunteers. We’re not leaving. We’re not going anywhere,” said Robison.

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