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Kent Collins

by Sarah Phipps Modified: April 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm •  Published: October 14, 2010

Ten months ago Kent Collins was a broken man, literally.

His elbow was shattered into 15 pieces. His pelvis was crushed.  Parts of his back were broken. His wrist and upper arm were broke.  All injuries from a 20-foot fall while installing Christmas lights at a local church.

But, Collins spirits were not broke.

“It really made me appreciate what faith can do. What strength, hope and God can do for us,” he said. “So it has taught me not fear as much with changes in life, and that I can get through just about anything and that my family can get through just about anything.”

Collins was determine to return to fire fighting. The doctors knew he would be able to walk again, but his left arm was severally damaged. It was the limited mobility in his arm, not a broken pelvis or back, that could end his fire fighting career.

“My doctor told me if you get to a point to where you can feed yourself and wash your hair with your left arm, that is the most you will be able to hope for,” Collins said.

Collins endured several surgeries and months of grueling rehabilitation to put his body back together. Nine months ago he was bound to a wheelchair.

Thursday he walked into Oklahoma City Fire Station 34 to report for full firefighter duties.

“I kind of feel at home. I have been a firefighter for 17 years. So a lot of who I am is tied up with being a firefighter. In all that time off, I never felt like a firefighter because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back.” Collins said.

“But the fact that I am here I feel like I can say ‘yep I am firefighter’”

Around 3:30 p.m, Thursday, the station’s radio squelched out.

“Engine 34 respond on a medical call … ”

Collins sprung to action, grinning from ear to ear, Collins pulled on his medical gloves as the fire engine raced across the Northwest Expressway.

“I’m back, ” he said.

You can see an audio slideshow about Collins here:

Kent Collins goes through rehab at Valor Hospital, March10, 2010, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Kent Collins goes through rehab at Valor Hospital, March10, 2010, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Be sure to check out the audio slideshow from this story here:

— Sarah Phipps

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by Sarah Phipps
Photographer
Born in Missouri, Sarah Phipps graduated of Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in Mass Communication and French in 1999. After an internship with the St. Joe News-press, Sarah moved to Oklahoma for a full-time job at the...
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