WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Born and raised in Wichita, Cameron Collins was inspired by several of his veteran family members to follow in their footsteps. In September 2002, Collins joined the Air Force and trained in a field he was exposed to as a child.

“Both my grandparents worked in nursing,” Collins said. “So, as I was growing up, I kinda was with her, and seeing how the nursing side was—it was kind of, like, a natural fit for me to go and do the same thing.”

During tech school, Collins would get his first taste of what it was like to be an EMT in the Air Force.

“There was a plane that came in from Ramstein Air Force Base, basically, injured soldiers from the Middle East. They were coming back to the States,” Collins said. “Taking those individuals off the plane—I’d heard about things like that, but just being able to actually, physically go out there and do it, you know, there’s no better teacher than just going out there and doing your job.”

For the next 10 years, Collins primarily served with the 931st Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base.

“Basically, to ensure that all of our, our, all of our people, pilots and everybody else who supported the KC-135, were taken care of, were physically fit to deploy,” Collins said.

During his time in the service, Collins would deploy three times. His first two deployments were to Turkey, where Collins was one of just two paramedics charged with the care of 120 airmen.

“They were out there supporting the refueling efforts in the Middle East. I was there also to support them, to make sure that anything they needed medical-wise, we were there to take care of them,” Collins said.

Collins also worked with a hospital at a Turkish base. He says occasionally, the workload required assistance not only from his own base but from other area bases as well.

“Typical day in Turkey? It all depended on the day, yeah, so, but it was, it was a nice experience,” Collins said.

Collin’s third deployment would take him to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam—supporting pilots and fighters flying back and forth in the region.

“We teamed up with a reserve group from Travis Air Force Base, so it was kind of both of us out there, so it was, it was probably around the same number of personnel out there, maybe a little bit bigger,” Collins said. “Our main job was to keep you alive until the next tier of support could come in.”

After three months in Guam, Collins would help train hundreds of future EMTs at McConnell—making sure the next generation would always be at the ready.

“Training was probably the one thing I loved about the military,” Collins said. “When it comes to the body, everybody’s pretty much made the same, so it’s just knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it.”

Collins would go on to train military EMTs in a civilian capacity. He would eventually go on to train contracting professionals in contracting squadrons.

If you want to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at hannah.adamson@ksn.com.