Sarasota County's new emergency services director was introduced today during the county’s emergency services quarterly awards.
Interim Fire Chief Mike Regnier introduced new director Rich Collins.
Collins gave a short introduction of himself. He previously worked in Osceola County and is from Chicago.
His father was a firefighter when he was growing up, Collins said, which has always influenced him and inspired him to follow the same path.
“Almost everyone in my family is a firefighter or a police officer,” Collins said.
County Administrator Tom Harmer appointed Collins after the retirement of the former director, Mike Tobias. Collins' first day was Monday.
Following Collins’ introduction, Regnier doled out awards to hard-working and life-saving service members, such as the Phoenix Awards for service members who successfully resuscitated a patient.
Sarasota County Commissioner Carolyn Mason also received a letter of commendation from Lifeguard Operations Manager Scott Montgomery – for finally learning how to swim.
After a swimming fatality last year, Mason told Montgomery she had never learned how to swim because she was always afraid of drowning. But after the accident, she decided to get lessons and overcome her fear, Montgomery said.
Every time she saw Montgomery in the hall, Mason would update him on her progress.
Because of her determination, the emergency services department gave her the letter – and a Lifeguard Operations polo t-shirt.
“You are something to be valued for doing that,” Montgomery said.