• From the Field with Paul Davis
    Paul Davis III, PhD, is the President of the First Responder Institute. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and a graduate of the School of Public Health, University of Maryland.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | Paul DavisPaul Davis III, PhD   Paul Davis is the President of the First Responder Institute. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and a graduate of the School of Public Health, University of Maryland. He has conducted job and medical standards development for hundreds of public safety and military organizations including the US Marine Corps, FBI, US Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, and most recently, the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA). 

    He is a former firefighter/paramedic and served as a member of the Fire Board of Montgomery County, MD, and was responsible for the development of definitive medical care outside of the hospital. As an expert witness, Davis has made more than 60 appearances in federal and state court in legal defense of physical standards. He is the creator of several TV sports productions including the Firefighter Combat Challenge® and World SWAT providing color commentary on ESPN, A&E, and the NBC Sports Network. 

    He has authored more than 200 treatises, articles, and reports, as well as two books—most recently: Hard Work (a guide for human resource managers, labor attorneys, and ergonomists)—co-authored with Dr. Brian Sharkey.

    1. What tactical population do you currently work with?

    I work with firefighters (worldwide), law enforcement agencies (U.S.), and military (U.S.).

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?
    I got started through a natural extension of my first avocation, a firefighter-paramedic in Montgomery County, MD. From the active fire service to the University of Maryland, receiving one of the first ever FEMA grants to conduct landmark research into occupational physiology for high-risk groups (1975 to present).

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education? Are there any sources you recommend staying away from? 
    The peer-reviewed publications of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and other scientific literature such as the Journal of Applied Physics (JAP), Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), etc. I assiduously avoid trade journals and the popular press.

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for? 
    I’d look for people who don’t watch the clock.

    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?
    I manage the Firefighter Combat Challenge, now a worldwide sports event, with thousands of “industrial athletes.” This includes scores of TV news appearances and coordinating 40 sponsors. I also consult in developing job-related hiring and retention and medical standards, as well as providing expert witness services in employment opportunity cases.

    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
    If it was easy, everyone could do it. Charting a course that requires you to “live by your wits” requires incredible concentration and appreciation for the power of “political correctness.”  

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC? 
    If you’re looking for employment security, you might think first of becoming a certified or sworn public safety officer first. You’ll have more credibility and have a protected position leading to a length of service retirement. 

    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program?

    Actually, the most important construct, outpacing by a wide margin, is the psychological “buy-in” to a lifestyle that puts regular fitness ahead of a lot of other distractions. With that kind of dedication, the rest is a cakewalk. 

    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with? 
    The focus of my new book, Do No Harm, is directed to mitigation of injuries by ensuring that the progression is within the grasp of the population. Too often in our relentless pursuit of perfection and excellence, we overcompensate and hurt people.

    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program?

    The biggest problem today is the race to the bottom for hiring “minimally qualified applicants.” The idea of hiring the most qualified results in the mediocre person who is always at their best.  
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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