One Door Opens, Another One Closes

Wait, Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around with doors?

Over the past three years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to try my hand at writing (articles and textbooks), research (American Heart and Stroke Associations) and presenting (Lectures and Workshops). These are all things that, as was true about my introduction to emergency services in the late 1980’s, I find that the more that I do it, the more that I enjoy it and the better I get.

I’ve been lucky enough to find great friends and mentors among the many writers, educators and leaders in emergency services.  I’ve had the chance to travel and expand my understanding of emergency services delivery across North America and the world. This door has swung wide-open to me and I’m discovering the wonders and opportunities that it presents. And yet at the same time, I’m saddened by the door that must close with it.

The chance to indulge and share my curiosity about all things emergency services has meant that I have less time for “boots on the ground” pursuits. I now contribute to textbooks and construct resources for all levels of EMS certification, but that means that I no longer teach EMS classes two to three nights per week like I used to. I participate in research to advance EMS’ ability to provide care, yet the hours required to do so mean that I can no longer ride in an ambulance as often as I used to.

Rom Duckworth Firefighter Gear

To be fair, I’m not complaining. I’ve done my 20 years of overnight shifts and I still have a full-time job as a Firefighter / paramedic so I still go to work with a good chance of coming home wearing smoke, blood or vomit, but nostalgia has a strong pull and the occasional accusation of “You don’t do 10 runs a shift to the hospital, so what can you tell me?” can sting.

While I was never one to complain about those who “Cannot do and thus, teach.” I can somewhat understand the argument. Nobody wants “Them” to tell “Us” what to do. However, speaking only for myself I feel that only when one can back away from 80-100 hours per week of 10-20 calls per shift can one get a chance to clear one’s head and begin to try to learn and assimilate information and apply it to the context of field delivery of emergency services. That is, I don’t believe that one can NEVER have had the “boots on the ground” experience and adequately bridge the knowledge gap from theoretical to practical. One simply would not be able to place information in a context that field providers can use. 

That being said, I don’t believe one could have the time to adequately learn and integrate the wealth of new knowledge available. Even if one did, the very nature of being buried in field work would inherently restrict your view to only that of the service(s) in which you work. And a terrible thing that would be, considering the wealth and variety of solutions that can be found around the world to some of the same problems that we face in our own response area(s).

So as I pass through these doors I may still miss the idea of all of that field work, but in the end I will try to embrace a new role that I have found among those who wish to discover and share knowledge so that we can not only deliver better services to those whom we protect, but so that we can all have shifts that are a little bit easier than “when I used to work the road”.


About The Author

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Editorial Director of RescueDigest, Rom Duckworth is a dedicated emergency responder and award-winning educator with more than twenty years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, public and private emergency services and hospital based healthcare systems. Rom is a frequent speaker at national conferences and a regular contributor to research programs, magazines, textbooks and new media on topics of field operations, leadership, education and career development in emergency services.

Founder of the New England Center for Rescue and Emergency Medicine, Rom is currently a career Fire Lieutenant / Paramedic and EMS Coordinator.

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About romduck

Rom Duckworth is a dedicated emergency responder, author, and educator with more than thirty years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and private emergency medical services. Rom is a career fire captain and paramedic EMS Coordinator for the Ridgefield (CT) Fire Department and director of the New England Center for Rescue and Emergency Medicine. Rom holds a master’s degree in public administration, is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program, and is the recipient of the NAEMT Presidential Award, American Red Cross Hero Award, Sepsis Alliance Sepsis Hero Award, and the EMS 10 Innovators Award. Rom is the author of "Duckworth on Education," as well as chapters in more than a dozen EMS, fire, rescue, and medical textbooks and over 100 published articles in fire and EMS magazines. A member of the NAEMT Board of Directors, as well as other national and international advocacy and advisory boards, Rom continues to work for the advancement of emergency services professions. Contact Rom via