$5 million first responders academy in works, plans to help make Panhandle communities safer

VIDEO: $5 million first responders academy in works, plans to help make Panhandle communities safer

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - New steps are being taken to create a first responders academy for Amarillo College students.

This academy is planned to be housed in the old JC Penney’s store at Sunset Center.

By having all first responder students train under the same roof, Amarillo College hopes it will not only prepare students for the real world but ultimately make the Texas Panhandle safer.

“At times we’re in very stressful situations. Having been there, I can tell you it helps to look up and see a familiar face that you know you can count on,” said Wade Olsen, emergency medical services professions at Amarillo College.

With all going on in the world, Chris Sharp, vice president of business affairs at AC says it has been difficult to get students interested in becoming first responders and because of that, their numbers are down.

“Of course it is really difficult now to get people interested in the law enforcement field and so we hope with this to develop and build a really good state of the arc facility where people can come and learn and have interest in that position and in those careers,” said Chris Sharp, vice president of business affairs at Amarillo College.

Olsen says almost all his students go on to serve in the Panhandle region.

AC believes that this academy will help better equip students to go off and work in smaller communities around Amarillo that can’t afford extensive training.

“They can’t have their own academy’s and so we team up with the towns from the Panhandle counties to run this program and it gives them very good, educated, trained police officers to go to work for them,” said Sharp.

Not only will this new building benefit AC students but could also help AISD students since it’s being built in the same parking lot as the future AISD career academy.

“We feel like we can share instructors, share equipment whenever some of their students have interest in firefighting or the police academy. It’s basically just walking across the parking lot,” said Sharp.

Just recently, phase two of this process began with architects now designing what the academy could look like.

Construction on the five-million-dollar academy most likely will not begin until next summer.

Copyright 2020 KFDA. All rights reserved.