Robert Dowling is the new director of Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point’s Emergency Medical Services Academy-Provider Organization, succeeding the late Don Hess, who was Dowling’s predecessor and mentor.
Dowling, 42, a firefighter/paramedic who has taught at the academy for more than five years, will begin his new role on March 19. He said he accepted the job on Feb. 23, following an offer made by Dr. Daniel Netluch, Franciscan St. Anthony chief of emergency services. Dowling had been serving as interim director since September.
Netluch said Dowling was among about a dozen “outstanding” candidates from Northwest Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, who were considered by a six-member committee.
“At the end of the day, the committee chose Rob because of his extensive and well-rounded background in EMS and emergency preparedness. He is well-respected, hard-working and the perfect fit to help take the EMS academy to the next level,” Netluch said.
Dowling, currently assistant Schererville fire chief, said he is resigning that post effective March 9 and looks forward to his new opportunity.
“I see my new role as a challenge and have the willingness to help push Don’s legacy forward,” Dowling said.
“Don was an icon among emergency services educators in the state. We were close friends and colleagues for years. I want to try to continue his legacy the best I can.”
Hess died Aug. 18 after serving 12 years as academy manager and 28 years in the emergency services field. The academy, which has been in place since 1992 and has 20 instructors, trains most of the emergency medical technicians and paramedics in south Lake County.
After accepting the interim director position in September, Dowling at that time said of Hess, “It is terribly difficult to sit in his chair, in his office, but I thought it would be the right thing to do.”
Asked how he feels sitting in Hess’s chair now, Dowling said, “It’s getting easier. I am working to make the office my own, with the help of Lenore (Hess’s widow). I still hope for Don’s guidance as I do the job.”
Dowling said he also will help benefit child cancer research, by getting his head shaved on March 17, as part of the annual St. Baldrick’s Day fund-raiser program, which begins at 1 p.m. at the Crown Point Fire Department. Persons interested in participating, or donating to the program, should call Linda in the EMS office, at (219) 757-6334, or the mayor’s office, at (219) 662-3240.