Tim Baldwin, a longtime ski patroller, paramedic and wilderness guide, is the new emergency medical services coordinator at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Tim Baldwin, a longtime ski patroller, paramedic and wilderness guide, is the new emergency medical services coordinator at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.

Tim Baldwin named to CMC faculty

Accident led longtime paramedic down current path

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To learn more about the emergency medical services program at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus or to see a list of available classes, go to www.coloradomtn.edu and click on "Steamboat" under the "Locations" drop-down menu at the top of the page.

— Tim Baldwin said an accident nearly five years ago that claimed the lives of three colleagues led him to where he is today.

Baldwin, 39, was named the Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus emergency medical services coordinator. He spent last year as an adjunct, teaching some classes.

In January 2005, Baldwin was the lone survivor of a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crash that killed crewmembers Tim Benway, Dave Linner and Jenny Wells. The Steamboat Springs-based crew was en route to Rawlins, Wyo., to transport a car-wreck victim to a hospital when the helicopter crashed.

"Since then, I've been recovering," Baldwin said. "I couldn't go back to being a full-time medic. Teaching has been a natural progression."

Baldwin said those injuries, including a broken back and broken legs, prevented him from returning to his profession full time. Now, he hopes to draw on his experiences as an emergency medical technician, paramedic, ski patroller and wilderness guide to teach students.

CMC's instructional chairwoman for professional and technical education programs, Sam Rush, who led the committee to hire Baldwin, said doing so was "the shoe that fit the right foot." Not only was he familiar with the college and department, having taught there the year before, but his professional and educational backgrounds were just some of the reasons he was hired, she said.

Originally from Colorado Springs, Baldwin moved to Steamboat after graduating from Colorado State University. After being certified as an EMT in 1990, Baldwin joined the Steamboat Ski Patrol in 1993. In 2000, he became a paramedic, which requires more advanced life-saving skills such as intubating patients, and he joined Steamboat Springs Ambulance, now known as Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.

After the accident, which concluded the local air ambulance's service, Baldwin led wilderness tours as a program director for Colorado Outward Bound School. He applied and took preparatory classes to attend nursing school, but he decided nursing wasn't for him.

Baldwin said all he wanted to do was be a paramedic.

"It's a field I love to do, and I'm skilled at," he said. "For the most part, being a paramedic is pretty rewarding work, even though you see a lot of tragedy."

Baldwin still works part time as a member of the Ski Patrol and six to eight shifts a month as a paramedic with Poudre Valley Hospital Ambulance in Fort Collins, but his new full-time job gives him an opportunity to pass on his expertise to those hungry to learn.

Baldwin said the experiences he's had have made teaching easier. He said the most rewarding thing for him is when a student "gets" what he teaches, when that "light bulb goes off," and when student masters the skills he has tried to teach.

"He can really adapt his teaching to whatever direction students want to go," Rush said. She added that one of the advantages to having Baldwin on staff was his experience with so many areas of being a paramedic and his ability to lend that expertise to students.

In the spring, Baldwin will teach EMT basic training, the EMT recertification course - which is required every two years, intravenous therapy, electrocardiogram interpretation and maybe wilderness training for EMTs.

Baldwin said he's looking forward to teaching the Alpine campus's facilities, which include classrooms with multimedia equipment and a room to simulate emergencies in a hotel or bedroom. He said the program also has a human patient simulator, a life-size dummy called "Pat" that can mimic cardiac rhythms and breathing, among other things. It was donated by Yampa Valley Medical Center, Baldwin said.

Rush said Baldwin was instrumental in procuring the patient simulator because the hospital no longer needed it for training purposes. Rush said she hopes the community college can become the premier training facility in the area.

He doesn't have any classes when the fall semester begins Monday. Instead, Baldwin's fall plans include marrying his fiancee, Liz Bristle, an emergency room nurse at YVMC, in October.

But make no mistake - Baldwin said he's ready to begin his new full-time job.

"I'm looking forward to working with students, with the rest of the Steamboat community," he said.

Rush said Baldwin's ability to not just connect with students but with all people will make him a great teacher and a great ambassador for CMC in the community.

"Tim is such a well-balanced individual. He's been through a lot in life," Rush said, adding that Baldwin personifies resilience, exuberance and tenacity. "We are so lucky to have him on board as a full-time faculty member."

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