Having lived on four continents in her life, Leigh Goodman is used to people trying to place her hybrid accent. But even a discerning ear can miss some of the subtlety in her speech.

“No one ever picks up on my New Jersey accent,” Goodman said Monday in her new office.

Goodman, who was recently named the new chief of the Trumbull Emergency Medical Service, took a circuitous route to her new position, both professionally and geographically. Born in South Africa and educated primarily in England, Goodman also spent years living in Australia, Chicago and Short Hills, NJ before settling in Connecticut.

Her professional life also has featured numerous changes. Goodman worked as an elementary school teacher but the frequent moves made keeping up her certification difficult. Then she found her calling when a friend suggested she give volunteer EMS a try.

“I loved it,” she said. “Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

For four years, Goodman volunteered with the Millburn Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad, and also took courses to become a paramedic. She continued her volunteering when the family moved to Connecticut, eventually landing in Trumbull, where she has worked as a paramedic since 2016 through Danbury Ambulance and Vintech. Since coming to town she has been named the 2018 Prevention Champion by the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking and Drugs. She also was the 2017 Bridgeport EMS Provider of the Year, and is a 2016 recipient of the Trumbull EMS Service Medal of Excellence.

“After an extensive search process, Leigh Goodman emerged as passionate, caring, and the most capable candidate to lead Trumbull EMS into the future,” said First Selectman Vicki Tesoro. “The EMS Commission was impressed with her forward thinking and her passion for her work as an emergency responder.”

Goodman said the decision to accept the position came after serious conversations with her husband and four children about the responsibilities she would be undertaking.

“When you do emergency medical work, you understand that sometimes you might miss a ballet recital because you got a call and you couldn’t leave for three more hours,” she said. “To actually head a service can mean having to deliver service at any time.”

But if the job is demanding, it is also rewarding, Goodman said. She named two things that she loved most about emergency medical work.

“The biggest thing is the interaction with people,” she said. “You get to be with people who are maybe having a difficult time, and it’s very moving. Sometimes the most meaningful calls are the ones where you simply provide comfort and support to people during a dark time.”

In addition to patients, there is the camaraderie of the ambulance crews.

“The people I get to work with, we’re together under some extreme conditions,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing I find really meaningful.”

The other thing Goodman said she loves most about the job is the diverse nature of her responsibilities. The simple fact of not knowing what each day on the job will bring is exciting, she said..

“Every day is like a surprise party,” she said. “It really keeps me on my toes.”