COLLEGE STATION — Former NFL player and Frisco Firefighter Danny Watkins is the 150th emergency responder to earn the US&R Rescue Specialist Certificate from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).
He was awarded his certificate at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, after completing more than 300 hours of rigorous, advanced training in structural collapse, rescue operations and other specialized search and rescue training. He completed the final course he needed for the certificate, Advanced Structural Collapse 4, on March 30. (In photo, Danny Watkins, 2nd from left, with his certificate, and TEEX instructors Brad Fisher, Mike Walters and Paul Gunnels.)
“It’s huge for me, all of the years of hard work and dedication taking these courses have brought all of these crossroads together,” said Watkins, who also serves as a rescue specialist and swiftwater rescue technician on Texas Task Force 1. “Being able to take this education back to Frisco Fire Department and TX-TF1 makes this a pinnacle moment for me, to be able to better serve the community. It’s a tremendous sense of pride to accomplish this, and it’s a great feeling after years of countless hours.”
The US&R Rescue Specialist Certificate program provides responders with a broad-based education in urban search and rescue training and response. They learn advanced interior and exterior shoring operations, breaching and breaking operations, and other advanced rescue techniques for large-scale structural collapse incidents.
“We are really proud of the dedication that Danny has shown to completing a program like this,” said Special Operations Battalion Chief Shannon Brinton of the Frisco Fire Department. “The value to our city of having someone accomplish the US&R Rescue Specialist certification and bring the knowledge, skills and abilities back to the city is unmeasurable, and we are glad to be a part of this program.”
Watkins joins 19 other firefighters who have earned the US&R Rescue Specialist Certificate in 2018. Certificate recipients from the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department this year are Hudson Barbler, Timothy Baker, Fermin Cristan, Jason Guerrero, Anthony Hawkins, Ronald Janek, Tae Kim, Stephan Lopez, Ian Martin, Larry Massingill, Nathaniel Pilcher, Stephen Spencer, Garrett Willmon and Dathan Wright.
Five other certificates were also awarded on March 12 to (pictured left to right) Andrew Capriglione of New Jersey Transit, Michael Iacino of The Woodlands (TX) Fire Department, Jimmy Ballinger of The Woodlands Fire Department, Paul Taylor of The Woodlands Fire Department and Matt Winn of TEEX.
Along with U.S. firefighters, past certificates have also been awarded to international responders from Canada, the United Kingdom and Denmark.