One of the “best-kept secrets” in Northeast Ohio is getting more local attention in Cleveland thanks to the story of cadet Savon Collins and the Cuyahoga Community College/ KeyBank Public Safety Training Center, featured in WorkingNation’s Changing Lives, Saving Lives mini-documentary back in June. Collins appeared with Tri-C Fire Training Academy Commander Daniel Waikus for a sitdown interview with Fox 8 News in the Morning’s Stefani Schaefer on Tuesday. They were in studio to talk about the Tri-C Public Safety Center’s partnership with KeyBank and how the bank’s grant is helping cadets like Collins become the next generation of Ohio firefighters.
Collins and Tri-C Fire Academy Commander Daniel Waikus with anchor Stefani Schaefer in the Fox 8 studio on Aug. 1
“Savon was fortunate enough to visit with me in the office one day and we were talking and I directed him to the KeyBank scholarship, which he took great advantage of,” Waikus said. WorkingNation profiled the public-private partnership with KeyBank as part of our Do Something Awesome (DSA) series. Collins and his family were gracious in allowing our filmmakers into their home to talk about his journey to complete his lifelong dream to serve his community. “Serving people has always been my calling. Firefighting is one of those professions that gets you amped up and juiced up to go out there and help people,” Collins said. The story of Collins and the Tri-C public safety training academies, which appeared on our website and on Forbes, struck a chord with the producers from Fox 8, who aired a segment of the DSA video prior to the interview. Though Collins was still in the midst of his training program at the time of filming the mini-doc, he has since completed and passed his state certification to become a firefighter. “I’m almost overly-anxious to actually get into the field and work in a department, but I need to hold back and just wait my turn and learn as much as I can from senior firefighters,” Collins said. Now with his firefighter’s certification under his belt, Waikus said that Collins is hard at work at completing his next step in his first-responder education: getting his paramedic certification. Waikus told Fox 8 that he was proud of Collins who will become a future “servant leader” for his community once he is out in the field. By getting the word out about Tri-C’s top-notch first-responder training through videos like Changing Lives, Saving Lives, and on local television, Waikus said that awareness of the academy will bring more people to the public safety sector, which is seeing a trend in declining applications. “It’s important that we get out there and let people know that these jobs are there and available. There’s a need. We’ve been providing training at the highest level in Northeast Ohio at the Fire Training Academy since 1971. We’ve got instructors who represent the best agencies,” Waikus said. Through the KeyBank partnership, Tri-C is aiming to boost representation of minority and female first-responders within area public safety departments. Getting more women and minority applicants trained and employed into the sector is a priority for the academy. “Traditionally, a career in the fire service, police or EMS has not been one that women have gravitated to. But we know that they, as well as many others, are very capable. We want to embrace the opportunity for them to train with us,” Waikus said. The video closes with some great parting words from Collins after he was asked about advice he would give to those considering a job as a first-responder. “There’s nothing wrong with trying. If you think you can be successful in this field, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a try,” Collins said. Join the Conversation: Tell us what you think of Savon’s continuing journey through Tri-C’s fire academy on our Facebook page.