We’d like to introduce you to Russ Ruszczyk, NRP, one of our EMS instructors.

Ruszczyk brings an extensive amount of experience and a wealth of knowledge to his role as EMS instructor, thanks to his service over his long EMS career.

He teaches several of our classes at Distance CME. Watch him in action in the following EMT/BLS and paramedic/ALS refresher classes.

What inspires you to continue working in EMS? What is the reward?

Headshot Image of EMS Instructor Russ Ruszczyk, NRP

Russ Ruszczyk, NRP

It’s the idea that I can continue to be part of EMS, given all my experience over the years.

I was an Army-trained X-ray technician with orders to Vietnam in 1968. Upon my arrival at the start of the Tet Offensive, I was re-routed to a unit assigned to the 101st Airborne at LZ Betty, where I functioned primarily as a medic.

After my tour and certification as a radiologic technologist, I worked in several hospitals, but felt I had a lot of experience and knowledge that I was not really using.

In 1981, I completed the paramedic program in Nebraska and have remained a registered paramedic ever since.

In addition, I was a certified procurement transplant coordinator for five years. I have worked as a volunteer firefighter/paramedic for 20 years while working a paid job in my other professions.

The reward has been an occasional thank you, smile or just knowing I did all I could to help someone on what may have been the worst day of his or her life.

What do you enjoy most about being an EMS instructor?

Using all the tips, tricks and skills I have observed or obtained from other outstanding EMS instructors.

My early X-ray student experience was mostly looking at an instructor’s backside while they read the slides or looking at the top of their head while they read notes.

My paramedic instructors were educators. They worked the audience, easily answering all questions and engaging the class in discussions.

I have been fortunate to have worked with several fantastic instructors at a university in Nebraska for several years. Eventually, we went our separate ways, but then reunited at a college-based EMS program for a while.

Not everyone has one of those magical experiences where you really enjoy going to work. I hope I am passing on a similar experience to my students.

What question do you get most from students who take the EMT BLS refresher? What answer do you give them?

The most popular EMT refresher question is usually, “How long is the class?” Followed by “How many questions are on the test?”

A lot of the other questions are “Why?” I think that is a great question.

The process is to educate the students, not just have them pass the test or repeat back memorized answers like a parrot.

You can’t really teach critical thinking. You can guide students and mentor them so hopefully that light bulb comes on in their head.

The EMS provider is usually the Lone Ranger, without a lot of back up that other medical professions may have in their work environments.

How can the material from your class help EMTs and paramedics do their jobs well?

The improvement comes with student comments like, “I didn’t know that,” because we present updated, cutting-edge information and supply references for students.

It also may be the student stating, “Oh I forgot that,” or “Now I remember.” When they ask the why questions, we provide the who, how, when and where.

Our classes are scheduled at various times and days so they are convenient for the working EMS professional to earn continuing education at their convenience in two-hour sessions.

On the job, at home, days, nights, weekends, holidays or whatever is convenient for them is when they’ll find our courses.

What are the top three skills EMS professionals need to be successful?

  1. First, remain calm under dangerous, horrific, emotional and stressful situations.
  2. Second, be committed to lifelong learning.
  3. Third, provide excellent customer service. Your customers are patients, families, members of the public and even coworkers in EMS, fire, dispatch, law enforcement and hospital emergency personnel.

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome as an EMS professional?

Budgeting my time and energy between EMS, my family and the paying job other than EMS that I needed so I could provide for my family.

Unfortunately, the rewards of EMS do not include a salary comparable to other medical professions. We are professionals, whether we are paid or volunteer.

Take one of EMS instructor Ruszczyk’s classes today!