Once Steven Acord decided he wanted to be a firefighter and paramedic, he never looked back. It was a career where he could embrace the unknown that each shift would bring. And he knew the weight of responsibility would drive him to succeed.
“I wanted to take pride in my work. I wanted to do something important where you feel obligated to the community that you work for to be good at it,” Acord says.
The community he refers to is one he’s known all his life. Acord, who’s a firefighter and paramedic at the North Ridgeville Fire Department, grew up in Grafton and now lives in Eaton Township with his wife and their two children. For him, being the best firefighter and paramedic he can be, is personal.
“The people I’m taking care of are part of my community, and sometimes they are actually family or close friends,” Acord says.
Like many first responders in Lorain County, Acord chose Lorain County Community College to earn the paramedic training he needed to become a firefighter. The college offered a high-quality Emergency Medical Services (EMS) – Paramedic program, delivered close to his home and for an affordable tuition rate. And, as with all LCCC’s career pathways, it was tailored toward working adults. Acord says LCCC’s quality and convenience combination is why so many fellow firefighters at the North Ridgeville Fire Department are LCCC graduates.
“There’s lots of us here,” Acord says. “On the firefighting and EMS side, we’re often working while we’re in school and LCCC is conducive to the people who do have to continue to work and pay bills and raise families.”
North Ridgeville Fire Department Chief John Reese underscored the department’s reliance on LCCC graduates. The department’s last three hires went through the college’s EMS – Paramedic program.
“We have a fantastic relationship with LCCC,” Reese says. “Students in the program do clinical time with us, so we get to see how they do and how they fit in, like an extended job interview. Some of them are fortunate enough to go back to LCCC to complete their associate of applied science in fire science.”
That’s what Acord did. In 2016 he earned his associate of applied science in fire science and said he did so because for firefighters and paramedics, education never ends. From updated protocols to new medications to cutting-edge firefighting technology, Acord says the industry is always changing and improving.
“Everything we do is constantly evolving,” he says. “So, if you just stay where you’re at when you got your training, you’re not evolving along with it.”
Acord is so passionate about first responder training that he spent six years teaching future paramedics at LCCC.
“I wanted to see people succeed and to be one of those instructors who’s willing to put in extra time with the students,” Acord says.
Dawn Sgro, director of LCCC’s EMS and fire science programs, saw Acord’s work ethic early on, as both a student and an instructor, and understood how it would translate into career success.
“Steven strives to do his absolute best in every area of his life, and he is an excellent paramedic and firefighter,” Sgro says. “Above all, it is easy to see how deeply he cares about his family, friends, and community.”
“Working here, I feel like I’m home,” Acord says. “I’m taking care of people in this community, and it makes a world of difference in my mentality, going to work here every day.”