Growing up in a small town in the foothills of North Carolina, Chris Brooks claims his lifetime dream from the age of 5 was to become a paramedic. Today, he is the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program Director here at The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE), where he teaches EMS courses in order to equip the next generation of emergency medical providers to become the best at what they do.
Chris arrived here at NCOAE in the summer of 2015 when he was hired as a part-time EMS instructor. But long before that, Chris had his eyes set on rescuing others on the trail or in the wild. He attended a community college right out of high school, receiving an Associate of Science degree in EMS in 1997 and became a paramedic when he turned 19 years old.
He later attended the Emergency Medical Care Bachelor of Science pre-med degree program at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and continued to work as a paramedic until 2005 when he took a supervisory position at an EMS agency in upstate South Carolina.
Four years later, he was hired on as an anatomy and physiology lab instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., soon becoming the anatomical laboratory director at that college’s Levine Campus.
We asked Chris to fill us in on the rest of his life — particularly in regard to his work at NCOAE’s Wilmington campus and his lifelong career choice. Here’s what he had to say:
NCOAE: Who were some of the people who shaped your early professional experience?
Chris: Who I am and the way I practice and teach emergency medicine was shaped by many people. Mostly it was the influence of my paramedic school instructors and those preceptors who taught me to function as a paramedic in the real world. I was very young, and these formative years were greatly influenced by people with many years of exposure to the darkest of all humanity has to offer.
NCOAE: If you had a non-outdoor industry sponsor who would it be and why?
Chris: It would have to be a company that provides products and training for EMS worldwide. I would love to travel the world and keep practitioners up to date with the most advanced devices and skills available to continue to relieve pain and suffering.
NCOAE: If you had super power or strength, what would it be and why?
Chris: I would love to fly. I’m not sure why exactly, it just seems to fit me — and I often dream that I can fly. Sometimes I will watch birds in amazement at how free and at ease they appear to be while in flight.
NCOAE: We understand you have an affinity for fiddling around with radio communications and computers? Tell us about that.
Chris: Besides being a paramedic, tinkering with electronics has always been a part of who I am. I was repairing TVs and tapping phone lines in middle school. I really enjoy keeping up with technology, but mostly I like to find ways to re-purpose things — or hack them.
NCOAE: Last question — A penguin walks through the door wearing a sombrero. What does she say and why is she there?
Chris:Ms. Penguin is here to report a murder in the stacks at the Bodleian Library. She requests my help in solving the murder of her husband, the distinguished Professor of Iberian Studies. (As you can see, I love British murder mysteries — especially those based at Oxford or Cambridge that offer history as a big part in solving the crime.)