EMS World Expo Quick Take: Dozens of tips for EMS educators and training officers

Rom Duckworth shares his top tips, ideas and resources for improving initial and ongoing EMS education


NASHVILLE — EMS educators and training officers received dozens of education tips to improve student learning and instruction efficacy from Rom Duckworth in a fast-paced, fact-filled session at EMS World Expo.

Duckworth, an EMS educator and author, has almost 30-years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and public and private emergency medical services. His presentation motivated and inspired the educators in the room to work on their craft.

Rom Duckworth, an EMS educator and author, has almost 30-years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and public and private emergency medical services. (Photo/AP)
Rom Duckworth, an EMS educator and author, has almost 30-years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and public and private emergency medical services. (Photo/AP)

Memorable quotes on EMS education from Rom Duckworth

Here are four memorable quotes from Duckworth on competency, mastery, teaching and learning.

“Competency is ‘I can do things right’ and mastery is ‘I can’t get it wrong.’”

“I hate the phrase ‘death by PowerPoint’, it’s not ‘death by PowerPoint’ it’s ‘death by crappy instruction.’ PowerPoint is not the problem. It’s how we design our education session.”

“We don’t have to learn and teach in chronological order because that’s way they (publishers) print it on dead trees. Study the most challenging information first.”

“A learning mindset is knowing where I am now and going to where I need to be.”

Top takeaways on improving EMS education

Duckworth’s rapid-fire presentation engaged the crowd with interactive elements, question and answer responses, and dozens of tips for better EMS education and instruction.

Rom Duckworth, an EMS educator and author, has almost 30-years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, hospital healthcare systems, and public and private emergency medical services.

1. Core components of any presentation

Duckworth began with three bonus tips – the core components of presenting any topic to any audience. Those components are:

  • Authority (ethos) – an educator must know what they are discussing, specifically the information student’s need to achieve competency.
  • Emotion (pathos) – is understanding the difference it will make to students to have knowledge and competency. The pathos will guide how you teach what’s most important.
  • Logic (logos) – is the structure or steps to guide students from their starting point in logical stepwise fashion to competency. For students who already have competency, logical structure is also needed to put students on the path to mastery.

2. “Today I learned” to challenge myself as an educator

At the core of Duckworth’s presentation was a challenge and encouragement to educators to do something different when delivering instruction, by teaching students how to succeed on learning and competency checks, and by releasing control by flipping the classroom.

Duckworth is a fire department shift captain. At the end of the shift, before leaving the department, he asks each member to state “Today I learned …” to reinforce learning that happened during the shift and to encourage continuous learning.

Session attendees, as they sort through the tips presented, should answer “Today I learned …”, a study technique Duckworth found on Reddit, to select and commit to the training techniques they want to use immediately.

3. Tips for EMS education

As attendees entered the room, they voted with PollEverywhere.com to pick the topics Duckworth would cover in the hour-long presentation. He began with 10 alternatives to PowerPoint, including:

  • Keynote
  • Prezi
  • Google Slides, Zoho Show, Slides
  • Haiku …

The full list of PowerPoint alternatives and tips is available in the EMS World Expo smartphone app and on Duckworth’s RescueDigest.com website. During the full presentation, Duckworth covered:

  • Alternatives to PowerPoint
  • Strategies to improve study time
  • Steps (ready, react, review, rules, repeat) to successful scenarios and simulations
  • Tip to improve difficult conversations

Duckworth’s slides and top tweets

Learn more about EMS education

Here are some other articles from EMS1 on EMS education, EMT training and paramedic training.

Alternatives to PowerPoint

How to study


Running effective scenario and simulations

Improving difficult conversations

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