By Aila Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
The Botetourt County Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) recently announced the promotion of firefighter/paramedic Darren Rock, a Botetourt native, to the position of lieutenant. He will assume his new position on Friday.
“I felt like it was time to move into a leadership role that will allow me to help the department out moving forward,” he said. “I will be able to help the younger members and less experienced personnel grow.”
Rock has a long history with Botetourt Fire and EMS, having started with the service in 2002 as a volunteer at the Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. He remained there until 2008. He also volunteered as a firefighter at Meadowview Volunteer Fire Department from 2004 to 2007.
Serving the citizens of Botetourt County through fire and rescue volunteerism is a family enterprise, Rock said. His grandfather was a founding member of the Troutville Volunteer Fire Department. His uncle is a life member there as well. Additionally, his father is a life member at the Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. Both his father and uncle are still active with their respective fire departments.
“I grew up around it and remember seeing my dad leave on calls,” he said. “I always wanted to do the same.”
He cites the fact that fire and EMS work is all about problem solving and is often times unpredictable as two of the primary motivating factors for initially volunteering at the Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. He added that he likes the fact that he gets to help the community and make a difference in people’s lives.
“I was drawn to the challenge of having to deal with something different every time you go out on a call,” Rock said.
He came to the Department of Fire and EMS full-time in 2016, after working as a medic/firefighter for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue for nine years. He previously spent eight years working as a part-time medic/instructor for Botetourt County Emergency Services. He also worked as a medic for Carilion Clinic Patient Transportation.
Rock explained that he has experienced many rewarding days over the course of the 17 years that he has been involved with fire and EMS, adding that it’s very satisfying to be able to look back and know that he made a difference in someone’s life.
The thing that he likes most about the Botetourt County Fire and EMS Department is that it’s community and family oriented. “Everybody here has a connection to Botetourt,” he said. “Whether they’ve grown up here or have friends and family here, everybody is very focused on the community.”
He said that he feels that the recruitment and retention of volunteer fire and rescue workers is the biggest challenge that the Department of Fire and EMS faces throughout the county. The extensive certification process can be a deterrent, he said. “It takes a lot to get the certifications and people don’t have as much time anymore,” he said. Additionally, the department faces staffing challenges on the professional side due to the fact that fire and EMS workers might prefer to go into the private sector because of increased incentives.
Although he will be based out of the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department, Rock explained that he will regularly travel throughout the community and will essentially be an “extra set of hands” for all of the various stations.
He achieved certification as a Nationally Registered Paramedic in 2017 and was selected as a fill-in officer for lieutenant in late 2018.
Rock graduated from Lord Botetourt High School in 2004 and Emory and Henry College in 2007, where he received his bachelor’s degree in public policy and community service.
He and his wife Abby live in the Blue Ridge community with their four children.