This is Doug Chadwick
Updated: Mar 14
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credits: Doug Chadwick and Jennifer Capoano
Lifelong resident, Doug Chadwick, is one member of five generations of Chadwicks who have lived and volunteered in Rutherford. Doug Chadwick has not only made Rutherford his home he has also given back to his community in many important ways, specifically his amazing efforts as the longest-serving member in the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps. This is Rutherford spoke with Doug Chadwick to learn more about his life in Rutherford and his impact on this community.
TIR: Health Inspector and Head of the Health Department, Brian O’Keefe, explained, “Doug Chadwick has completed fifty-seven years of volunteer service, donating his time and talent to the borough as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).” What and/or who inspired you to become an EMT?
Doug Chadwick: When I was fifteen my mother’s friends convinced her to put her nursing background to use and join them as a member of the Ambulance Corps. I liked to listen to her talk about her adventures on some of the calls. What cemented my interest was RHS gym class. That year sophomores were required to take the American Red Cross Basic First Aid course. We had the option of taking it during gym class or taking it at night at the Ambulance Corps building. I chose the latter. After finishing that 8-hour course I went on to take the 16-hour Advanced First Aid course. The instructor told me I then had all the training I needed to join when I turned 16.
TIR: How long have you been an EMT with the Rutherford First Ambulance Corps?
DC: I joined the Ambulance Corps in October of 1962 as a Cadet at 16 years of age. The EMT level of training did not start in New Jersey until 1970. The NJ Department of Health announced that the first class in northern New Jersey was going to be held at Hackensack Hospital. At that time there were four of us young men covering the Monday night shift and we all wanted to attend but the classes were on Monday and Thursday nights. We drew straws to determine which of us would go and who would stay on duty and wait until the second class the following year. I lost. Thus, I went to the second class and became an EMT in 1971.
TIR: What are some of the different positions you have held within the Ambulance Corps?
DC: I have held almost all of the elected positions in the Corps. On the administrative side of the corporation, I have been President, Vice-President, Secretary and on the Board of Trustees. Within the operational arm of the organization, I have been the Captain, Second Lieutenant (in charge of scheduling the crews) and the Training Officer.
TIR: As the current Vice-President of the Ambulance Corps, what are your responsibilities?
DC: The Ambulance Corps gives the Vice-President the responsibility for and therefore the chair of several committees. The most important of these is the Fund Drive through which we get most of our operating funds. I am also responsible for the Budget Committee which proposes the budget to the membership and then monitors that the officers and committee chairs keep within the budget throughout the year. Another duty is to chair the Executive Functions Committee whose job is to investigate and make recommendations when serious disciplinary actions are being considered.
While not officially part of the Vice-President’s duties I am also chair of the LOSAP (Length of Service Award Program) and By-Laws committees and I am a delegate to the 24th District of the EMS Council of New Jersey of which Rutherford is a member. I am currently Vice-Chair of the 24th District.
TIR: Have you received any special training while serving as an EMT?
DC: You recently interviewed two of our younger members, Hannah and Kacper, and our Captain, Mike Tarantino. They gave you great insight into the training required to be an EMT. It is now about 250 hours of lectures, hands-on practice and time in the hospital. After the initial training, we are required to recertify as an EMT every three years which includes 24 hours of three required subjects and 24 hours of elective courses of our choosing but approved by the NJDOH Office of Emergency Medical Service.
Beyond the EMT courses, we have to take the bloodborne pathogen course every year and recertify in CPR every other year. Other courses that are required soon after a member begins riding the ambulance are HazMat Awareness, Incident Command, Narcan administration, HIPAA Awareness and Coaching the Emergency Vehicle Operator. Some of the interesting courses I have taken over the years are Prehospital Trauma Life Support, Paramedic Assistant, Automobile Extrication and Rescue Task Force.
Brian O’Keefe told TIR, “Not only has Doug been an active member of the Ambulance Corps, but he has also dedicated and volunteered his time in the past as an Emergency Medical Technician instructor at Bergen Community College and has taught his fellow squad members numerous first aid and safety courses at the Ambulance Corps building over the years.”
TIR: “Doug is a life member of the ambulance corps and is exempted from having to commit hours to the organization covering the EMS schedule, yet he continues to donate his 57 years of expertise as an EMT by providing free ambulance service to residents, visitors, and businesses in town by covering the EMS schedule on Tuesday nights from 12:00 PM to 6:30 AM, and one Sunday a month from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM. In addition, he continues to help out at other times, such as at the many special events throughout the year the borough has and when additional calls for assistance are requested,” Brian O’Keefe explained.
What do you enjoy most about being an EMT?
DC: I enjoy the teamwork involved while on duty and during ambulance calls, whether that be with one partner or a crew of several EMTs. I enjoy the challenge of having to make critical decisions quickly. I especially enjoy the camaraderie we have with the police and fire departments.
TIR: What is the most rewarding part of being an EMT?
DC: The most rewarding part of being an EMT is the opportunity to help people in their time of need. Most of the time we are able to provide a calming and reassuring influence which reduces the uncertainty and apprehension in the patient. It is nice to see that.
But for me, the most rewarding part of being an EMT is my wife, Jane. When I was an EMT Instructor my wife was an instructor-in-training and was assigned to my class as my aide. We hit it off and started dating. She joined Rutherford and we wound up as partners. A couple of years later we became the first members to get married.
Sergeant Julie Ziegler explained, "Doug Chadwick has selflessly served his community for the last 56 years and continues to do so today. By doing so he has dedicated countless hours volunteering as a member of the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corp. to ensure our medical needs have been met with the utmost compassion and professionalism. As a member of the Rutherford Police Department, I have been given the opportunity to work closely with Doug, one of the kindest men I know, and to get to know him and his wonderful family personally. Doug is what every EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) should aspire to be: kind, caring, compassionate, and respectful. I am truly honored to call Doug a friend."
Pictured below: Jane and Doug Chadwick, Doug and Jane Chadwick, and Jane, Doug, and their daughter Lauren Chadwick:
Doug Chadwick's daughter, Lauren, told TIR, "My dad is one of the strongest, most loyal people I know. His take-charge, yet calm and assertive manner has made him very good at what he does. Growing up it was a challenge when he was on call on holidays or during special events but knowing he was out helping others made me proud of him. First responders and their families make significant sacrifices for their communities but knowing others are being helped make it worth it. I am so proud to be his daughter and of the lasting impact my father and others in the Chadwick family have had on Rutherford.”
TIR: Why would you encourage others to consider becoming an EMT?
DC: People become EMTs for a variety of reasons. Some want to do something for the community, to become involved and give back. Others see it as a stepping stone into the medical community. Rutherford has had numerous members move on to higher levels of medical care. I can think of eight members who have become paramedics, six who became nurses and at least ten who went on to become doctors. I have probably forgotten a few.
The advantage of being an EMT is that you learn how the body works, how diseases affect us and how to treat them and treat injuries. That knowledge alone gives one a lot of self-confidence. You know what to do in a crisis and can function under pressure. We have had many members join who were timid and unsure then saw them blossom into confident and self-assured people.
TIR: Your mom was the Mayor of Rutherford. Can you tell us about her and what it was like for you when she was the Mayor of your hometown?
DC: What is not well remembered is that my father, David Chadwick, was elected to the Borough Council and served three terms in the late 1950s into the 1960s. In fact, he ran for Mayor during his last term but lost. So, my brothers and I were indoctrinated at an early age into the value of being a public servant and the demands on their time that come with that commitment. Fifteen years later when Mom got elected to the Council and subsequently as Mayor and Bergen County Freeholder, we knew what to expect. A lot of phone calls, meetings day and night and missed family events. I am proud of both my parents and the impact they have had on Rutherford.
My mother’s position as Mayor never really affected me however it did have one benefit. When a patient recognized my name, they would invariably ask if I was related to the Mayor. When I told them she was my mother they would go on about how she affected their lives in being their friend, helping them solve a problem in the town or even that she performed their marriage ceremony. For a few brief minutes while traveling to the hospital their mind was not on their pain or predicament but rather on some nicer memories.
Even though my mother has been out of office for almost twenty years and now gone for eight years, I occasionally come across patients who, when they learn my name, introduce me to their family as Barbara’s son. It is nice to know that she is remembered.
"In my eight years riding with Doug in the Ambulance Corps, he has been a great mentor and true leader. Doug is very passionate and committed to the Ambulance Corps and the community he serves," Mayor Frank Nunziato told TIR.