Faculty Spotlight: Tim Caldwell
Program: Fire Science
Tim Caldwell's life as a firefighter/EMT started as a hobby.
During high school, Caldwell worked a summer job at Westmont Public Works, where most of the employees were also paid on-call firefighters/EMTs. When an emergency call came in, Caldwell rode with co-workers in a dump truk to the firehouse, where he would wait for them to return.
"While waiting, I would talk with the other firefighters, and I thought the whole concept of helping people you don't even know in their time of need was pretty cool," he said.
When he turned 18, Caldwell was asked if he wanted to join the Westmont Fire Department and replied with an enthusiastic "yes." He also enrolled at College of DuPage and earned his associate's degree. When he transferred to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Caldwell would come home on school breaks and return to the firehouse.
After earning his bachelor's degree in Speech Communication, with a specialization in Public Relations, Caldwell worked as a manufacturer's representative for five years. During this time, he stayed with the fire department part time, and he began to realize his love of firefighting was far more than a hobby.
"It was then I decided to do my hobby for a living and was hired full-time in 1982 by the Bolingbrook Fire department," he said. "I was sent to paramedic school and went back for a second BS degree in Fire Administration. I took as many classes as the department and my family would allow and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1991. My duties included engine and truck company officer, station commander and shift training officer."
His second passion emerged while working with other firefighters, which he regarded as an honor. He was asked if he would like to instruct EMT classes at COD, and he enjoyed helping students understand the culture of the fire service.
"I want students to know that being a firefighter or an EMT is more than just a job," he said. "There must be pride in yourself and your profession. Teamwork is monumental. You must rely on your crew to do a good job just as they must rely on you. Everyone you work with understands that if someone drops the ball on an assignment or a skill, it could cost a life. I want students to know they must be confident and competent in everything they do.
"Every day I went to work, I was surrounded by professionals, and it did not mater if they were paid on-call or full time. Each was willing to risk his or her life for others and make a positive difference in someone's life who they had never met before. I'm inspired by students here at the College who are willing to learn our trade and then decide if they want to enter our time-honored traditions in a very honorable profession."
Caldwell enjoys working in the new Homeland Security Education center and is continually inspired by the I-beam memorial for the 9/11 attacks.
"This I-beam is from the World Trade Center that collapsed and killed 343 firefighters. Those firefighters, EMS providers, police officers and Port Authority officials gave their lives helping others," he said. "Every day I touch that beam and I'm grateful for those men and women who were willing to make a difference when they went to work on that day. I firmly believe in the motto, 'We will not forget.'"