GRACE UNDER PRESSURE
June 23, 2015
By Audrey Fraizer
Although EMD James Domeier was thousands of miles away from Las Vegas, he was certainly at NAVIGATOR’s Opening Session in spirit when announced as the Dispatcher of the Year.
Domeier, of Allina Health EMS communications in Minneapolis, Minn., is a Specialist First Class with the Minnesota Army National Guard and among 40 soldiers from the 204th Area Support Medical Company that left Minnesota for training on Sept. 14, 2014, for a nine-month deployment in support of the multinational force in Sinai, Egypt. The soldiers are scheduled to return this summer at which time Domeier will receive the award.
And although Domeier wasn’t at NAVIGATOR to accept the honor in person or share his story with the packed house, his absence was at least partially filled by the people there willing to substitute in his shoes.
“The multiple letters of recommendation made him stand out,” said Carlynn Page, Associate Director, International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). “He was noted for his teamwork and dedication, and he was distinguished for a calm demeanor, grace under pressure, and ability to keep his cool. He truly exemplifies what we do.”
Domeier was selected from among 18 nominations submitted based on his significant contributions to further the values and mission of the Academies through personal action, which includes compliance to the Academy’s medical, fire, and/or police protocols. Although no one 9-1-1 call captures the honor, Page said Domeier’s consistent reassuring manner in providing Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs) is striking, as evidenced in the 9-1-1 call between Domeier and Casey Whitley that was played for the NAVIGATOR audience.
“His demeanor makes these stressful encounters easier for those calling 9-1-1,” Page said. “Demeanor tells a story about the person and the ability to lead. It’s a very important dispatcher characteristic we look for when reviewing calls, especially those involving PAIs.”
Casey described Domeier’s comforting and impressive influence the evening he called 9-1-1 when his wife, Stephanie, was in the first stages of anaphylactic shock. Stephanie had just injected the medication she takes three times a week to alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. She called out to her husband at the onset of odd sensations immediately following the prescribed routine.
“I couldn’t breathe, and my throat was constricting,” said Stephanie, a triage clinical nurse at Fairview Health Services in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Casey found his wife awake and breathing. Her face was pale and puffy. Her speech was slurred. He couldn’t understand what she was trying to tell him. Within seconds of making the call to 9-1-1, she was slipping in and out of consciousness.
“I tried to remain as calm as possible,” Casey said. “James was calm, and I knew that if I did the same, we could work together to help Stephanie. He walked me through instructions, and I felt better knowing there was something I could do.”
Stephanie was unable to recall much of what happened during the next six hours before waking up in the hospital; however, she said the experience—for better or worse—has opened her eyes to the dispatch profession.
“We were amazed by what we were shown during a tour of the communication center,” she said. “Before this happened, we really had no idea about the remarkable job that they do.”
Allina Health EMS Medical Director Chuck Kaufman credited Domeier’s ease and his ability to focus on the task at hand.
“He’s great,” Kaufman said. “And we’re really honored for him considering the number and caliber of nominees.”
Angela Fox, Manager, Allina Health EMS communication, said she was thrilled to go on stage to accept the honor for him.
“We’re so lucky to have him as part of our team,” she said. “We regret his absence, but that doesn’t change the great job he does—you all do—every day.”