Conversations with Marie Leroux and a Fab Fellow

Journal Staff

Academy Boards and Councils and Fellows

Interviews by Marie Leroux give a glimpse into the current stewards of the Academy’s Protocols. Marie is College of Fellows (COF) President, and each COF member is selected based on relevant experience, knowledge, and dedication to the Protocol systems used around the world.

But first a word about Marie.

Wherever the new title takes her, Marie Leroux is ready to go.

Unless, of course, she does the Leroux thing and outpaces expectations.

Leroux is the IAED College of Fellows Chair. She is the third person in the College’s history to assume the role of overseeing the “stewards of the MPDS protocols.” The College now represents every country where protocol is used, and its responsibilities have grown to “stewards” of MPDS, FPDS, PPDS, and ECNS.

Leroux said she’s been “completely flying on air” since the Academy’s announcement. Although it represents a pinnacle in her long EMS career, the new role won’t diminish her active pursuit of the profession. She won’t’ be sitting behind a desk.

In fact, she said, that part of her work takes on an even bigger focus.

“I will be shedding more light on what the College does to maintain the integrity Dr. Clawson envisioned from the start,” she said.

Leroux succeeds Marc Gay, who was named Council of Research Chair. Gay was College chair for 12 years (2005–2017).

Dr. Jeff Clawson created the College of Fellows in 1990, shortly after the release of MPDS Version 10. He had donated the MPDS patents and copyrights to the Academy, with an agreement to maintain and improve the protocols under a prescribed scientific method. The original mission statement states: “To conduct an on-going review of the current standards of care and practice in Emergency Medical Dispatch and evaluate the tools and mechanisms used to meet or exceed these standards.”

The College’s structure and purpose were modeled after that of the American Heart Association, which sets standards of CPR, BLS, and ALS. The College maintains standards and integrity of the Protocols, certification curriculum, and all aspects of DLS. It also governs the separate Councils of Standards (medical, fire, police, ECNS, and QA).

Compare the purpose to Leroux’s credentials, and you have a perfect match.

Leroux, RN, supervised a predominantly nurse advisory system in the Montréal’s EMS communications system when the MPDS made its first jump across U.S. borders in 1991. Since Leroux was bilingual—fluent in English and French—she was given the task of translating the MPDS into French.

Leroux was hooked. She was so impressed that she brought MPDS to the attention of Québec’s Ministry of Health.

“Nursing had never shown me principles of DLS,” she said. “I learned DLS was a science of its own, and considering my background, I thought I could be of further help. This was more than a set of protocols. This was the science of dispatch. It was a process.”

The Academy welcomed Leroux on board, and she immediately set to work refining the international scope. She assisted in formulating OMEGA codes, establishing other new levels of determinant descriptors, and developing curriculum.

In 1996, she was named Chair of the Medical Council of Standards and held that position for 10 years while, during the same time, earning seats on the Board of Certification and the Rules Committee of the Councils of Standards. Her credentials take two lines (EMD, EFD, EPD, EDQ-Instructor, EMD Mentor, EMD Mentor Instructor, and Master Instructor). She was honored as an Emeritus member of the IAED and as a Pioneer EMD Instructor.

The endless possibilities in dispatch still keeps her hooked. The science of DLS was in its infancy internationally when Leroux grabbed hold, and for the past nearly 30 years she has been central to the delivery of the gold standard of DLS.

“Every single day presents a challenge,” she said. “The more boxes I open, the more treasures I find.”

Kate Dernocoeur (Michigan, USA)

Kate’s lengthy experience as a Denver paramedic led to publication of her first book, “Streetsense,” in 1984. Educated as a journalist, she wrote other books and hundreds of articles for EMS readers, often focusing on the interpersonal complexities of street medicine. She earned a master’s degree in creative non-fiction in 2010.

Marie: Tell me where you are from and where you now live.

Kate: I have spent most of my life in Lowell, Michigan (USA), but my heart also still is very much where I grew up in Denver, Colorado (USA).

Marie: How did you become a Fellow of the College of the IAED?

Kate: I had a disastrous experience as a dispatcher where training was “sit by me and do what I do” kind of mentee program. In 1985 or so, I was reading about Dr. Jeff Clawson in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS). I thought, wow, this is so big. When I came across Dr. Clawson in an EMS conference, we talked about my first book, “Streetsense: Communication, Safety, and Control,” and we thought of using my credentials as a writer and a journalist and his knowledge of Dispatch Life Support (DLS) to co-write a book.

I believe this is how I became an inductee.

Marie: Thirty years later, this book is still the DLS bible, “Principles of EMD,” in its sixth edition. Outstanding!

Kate: We actually wrote in Mexico and came back without any tan, because we wrote it under the shade by the pool. After two weeks, people came around and they wanted to know what is the world we were writing about!

Marie: Sorry guys, but no one will feel sorry about your tan.

Marie: Were you ever certified with the Academy?

Kate: I got my EMD certification in McMinnville, Oregon, USA, around 1986, and took a bunch of notes to include in the book.

Marie: Don’t tell me your instructor was Ross Rutschman.

Kate: Yes, how did you know?

Marie: That’s where he is from, and he is also a COF, so watch for an eventual interview.

Kate: Great.

Marie: You are also a paramedic?

Kate: Yes, and I recently got to be firefighter, as I wanted to do some canine search and rescue.

I just love the wilderness; I created a blog (http://katedernocoeur.com/tag/travel/).

Marie: What burning questions would you have for other COF members? What message would you send to all IAED members?

Kate: I totally want to know how they got involved in the COF.

Members, I would love to say get to know the field that is not your primary one. The more dispatchers know about the field, and the more the field knows what goes on in dispatch, the more we become a true team and do better for the community.

Marie: Notable fact you would like to share?

Kate: I believe I was the first COF to receive the James O. Page award.

Marie: Now, fun fact?

Kate: Well Marie, as you know, my name sounds very French. I can tell you pronounce it as such. But in the USA many pronounce it DOR NO KIR. So, I became the Door Knocker Paramedic.

Marie: I like it. And thank you so much for letting us know more about these people in the COF.

Patricia “Patty” Jean Dukes (Hawaii, USA)

Patricia retired as the EMS chief for the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, in 2015 and moved to Kuwait for a new position with the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates. She is now back in Hawaii and is an IAED instructor.

Marie: Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

Patty: I was born outside of Detroit, Michigan, USA; moved to Los Angeles, California, USA; and, finally, to Hawaii in 1979. I’m still in Hawaii.

Marie: What about the COF?

Patty: It was at the second NAVIGATOR held at Snowbird in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains in Utah (1998). I had met Dr. Clawson through James O. Page in 1991 when we implemented the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) statewide in Hawaii.

Marie: Are your certified?

Patty: Yes, I am an EMD Instructor since 1994, and I’m also a Master instructor.

Marie: What does it take to become a master instructor?

Patty: It takes three broad areas: Experience teaching the course (I’ve taught at least 50); Student repartee (good evaluations); and dedication (a passion for helping others succeed and a willingness to pass along the knowledge).

Marie: Does it mean something to you to be a Fellow of the IAED College?

Patty: Yes. I don’t go bragging about it, but, yes, it means a lot. I am very honored. In fact, I am very grateful and always available to put my two cents. I don’t have letters after my name. I am no brainiac. My mentors are my heroes, and I am just glad to be part of the pack.

Marie: Is there anything you’re burning to tell IAED members?

Patty: It’s something I’d like to ask: “What can I do to help?”

Marie: What are you up to these days?

Patty: Since retiring from the City of Honolulu, I spent three years under contract by the Kuwait University Office DC at the army basis administering EMS. That was quite an experience.

Marie: That may explain why I haven’t seen you in a while at the USA NAVIGATOR.

Patty: Yes. I was in the Middle East and attended that NAVIGATOR twice and the NAVIGATOR held in Australia as well.

Marie: Looking forward to seeing you at the next NAVIAGATOR, wherever and whenever that might be. And thank you so much for letting us know more about these people in the COF.

Dave Massengale (California, USA)

Dave’s long career in EMS includes Dispatcher/Relief Supervisor at Sacramento Regional Fire/EMS Communications Center, EMS Coordinator at Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, and EMS Coordinator at Sac Metro Fire. He is a regional representative for the IAED.

Marie: Where were you born and where do you live now?

Dave: I’m a Canadian “Newfie.” I was born in St-John’s, Newfoundland. But I have been in the USA for a long time, and I’m living in Folsom, California.

Marie: Did you drive to Modesto for the course? (Marie interviewed Dave during his lunch break while teaching an EMD course in Modesto, California).

Dave: Yes, we drove, for once.

Marie: Who’s “we”? You have a traveling buddy?

Dave: My wife, Carol, travels with me all the time. She helps me get around.

Marie: Can we say why?

Dave: Sure, I have a disability, muscular dystrophy; it has been more challenging during the last three to four years. I was diagnosed in my twenties.

Marie: How did you get into the COF?

Dave: I was appointed over 30 years ago. I think the guy (AKA Jeff Clawson) liked me. I have a true passion for DLS.

Marie: Where does that passion for DLS come from?

Dave: Probably because I saw the need for it a long time ago and still do today. You know, when I was a dispatcher paramedic, we could not say anything to our callers.

Marie: Oh my gosh, that really existed.

Dave: Yes, it was so frustrating, and since I retired in 2004, I now teach pretty much full time.

Marie: What are your Academy certifications?

Dave: EMD-I, EFD-I and ETC-I, and Master instructor for those three disciplines as well.

Marie: Any special recognition?

Dave: Ah come on, you ought to know that.

Marie: Yes, but I want you to tell me in your own words.

Dave: That’s it, I had no words. I was totally overwhelmed. After 37 years, I was awarded the first-ever IAED Instructor of the year Award, by Pam Stewart, Board of Certification Chair, IAED.

Marie: Surprised? Did your wife know?

Dave: Yes [I was surprised]. Carol did know, and my two kids as well. Still paying for that one.

Marie: Anything burning you would like to say to all of our IAED members?

Dave:. Be professional; you never who is listening, watching, and looking.

Marie: True, we sometimes deal with sensitive issues, and yes, we do talk for an Academy that we represent.

Marie: Any thoughts about you being a Fellow?

Dave: It means a lot. I get to vote on the standard of care for the world, the same one’s I could not say 30 years ago.

Marie: Good for you. I would definitely be thrilled having lived and contributed about that 360-degree switch. Now, on a lighter note, did you have a nickname during your public safety career?

Dave: At some point, I tried to work out issues with my hair and got it permed. Perms were fashionable. So, I was called Lamont, from the Sanford and son TV show. Also, in dispatch, “Mom.” I love cooking, so I made sure everyone was fed. Later, it switched to “Dad,” as the older guy, I guess.

Marie: Force of nature all the way, and let me confirm the gray hair is perfect now. Thanks so much for sharing your story and contribution to the COF.