Why I Teach: Gary Ludwig

Gary Ludwig, Chief, Champaign (IL) Fire Department

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: Crime Scene Preservation for Fire and EMS Personnel

Friday, April 22, 10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

The fire service continues not to learn the lessons of the past when it comes to crime scene operations. My goal is to educate fire professionals on how they should avoid inadvertently destroying evidence that could allow a criminal to go free. There are new methods for collecting and documenting evidence on crime scenes now. DNA sequencing has truly evolved; simple things like saliva on cigarette butts can make the difference.

My inspiration comes from a strong desire to make a difference and help others. A career in the fire service affords me that opportunity when you can help someone on medical calls or save the valued and irreplaceable possessions of someone whose home is burning. One lady lost every picture she had of her deceased husband in a house fire. I only wish we had been able to do more for her.  

However, the high points are when a life or property is saved.  Because of my training, I twice have been able to save the lives of people who were choking when I was in a restaurant off duty. We once saved an old lady’s dog in a house fire. The dog was everything to her in the world—all she had.  The joy she had when the dog started responding to oxygen cannot be described.  

My low points include three separate fires where there were six children dead at each fire. A mother who shot her daughters—all under the age of 7—because she did not want to go on welfare. An 18-year-old high school student, working part-time at a gas station to earn extra money, who was forced to kneel in a corner, facing the wall, and executed during a robbery.

I have been teaching since the mid-1980s. Instruction is important to prepare those who follow you to do an excellent job and prepare them for what you have already seen and experienced. This will enable them become better at what they do or maybe even prevent them from being injured or killed.  

At FDIC, there is so much to see and learn. The value of networking and fellowship with other fire service professionals cannot be calculated.

When off-duty, I enjoy spending time with my family and grandchildren. I love boating and own two boats.  My children and I are certified divers and love diving when on vacation in the Caribbean.

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