“What do you want to do when you grow up?” It is a question many of us struggle with. Some people know what they want to do at a young age, yet others find it more difficult to discover a passion that leads to a rewarding career. Tulsa Tech is here to help students figure out that next step. For Tulsa firefighter and Tulsa Tech graduate Colin Ward, that question had a logical answer.
“For me, it’s just what I have always known. I grew up around firefighters all my life,” Ward said. “My great-grandpa, grandpa and dad were all firefighters, I went to stations all the time when I was a kid.”
The soft-spoken Ward is a fourth-generation Tulsa firefighter and hopes when his career is over he can say his family served the city for more than 100 years. His humble nature and self-awareness speaks volumes, as a high school senior, he enrolled at Tulsa Tech in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program.
“I lucked out in that Tulsa Tech came by my high school junior year,” Ward said. “The advisor told me about the programs I could do and my dad worked there part-time so he explained it more to me.”
More than luck, Tulsa Tech spends hours telling thousands of students at our partner schools about all of the programs available. The goal is simple, help students realize their passion and create a competitive advantage. An advantage Ward capitalized on by talking to his instructors, and he remembers one call that made him realize being a first responder was for him.
“I was doing a ride-along in Broken Arrow and a woman was in a car accident,” Ward remembered. “She was scared but seeing how the medic was able to calm her down and get her to relax made a difference. Knowing that I could do that for someone in the future was a bid deal for me.”
It is that passion for helping others that is the hallmark of first responders. Ward, who is a licensed Paramedic, earned his credentials after completing his training at Tulsa Tech. He says it is how Tulsa Tech instructors teach that worked for him.
“Getting a mixture of reading and then doing hands-on work helped me comprehend a lot of what I was reading,” Ward said with a smile. “I learn a lot by reading and I read the textbook a lot, but I have never been a lecture person.”
While many are eager to get out of the classroom, Ward is already back, this time helping to train the next generation. Ward serves as an adjunct-instructor, leading CPR and heart saver training across the District. He also is back in the EMT classroom at Tulsa Tech’s Peoria campus. The state-of-the-art lab features simulators, a real ambulance and a control center allowing instructors to simulate any type of incident.
“I haven’t been really doing this long enough to say I have a bunch of experience,” Ward said with shyness. “But it feels fantastic to pass that experience onto somebody else. My story could make them fall in love with this career or could make them an even better provider.”
Ward now hopes more people will follow his path and use their senior year of high school to get EMT training. The Tulsa Fire Department requires all firefighter cadets to have their EMT license and Ward says there is no better way to get that training that at Tulsa Tech.
“As soon as I left high school, I found a good job making really good money for someone my age because I got that EMT training,” Ward said. “The fact that it was free and I didn’t have to worry about making a payment on the class, I could focus more time on my studies and being the best EMT I could be. I would recommend letting more kids know.”