NAEMT EMT of the Year: Dean Darling, EMT-I, Sauk City, WI

The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) and EMS World, in conjunction with the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA) and the National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE), established the National EMS Awards of Excellence program to recognize outstanding achievement in the EMS profession.

The 2012 awards will be presented on Tuesday, October 30, at the NAEMT Annual Meeting in New Orleans, held in conjunction with EMS World Expo 2012, and at the EMS World Expo Opening Keynote on October 31.

We would like to thank the following sponsors of this year’s awards: NAEMT Paramedic of the Year Award sponsored by Nasco; NAEMT EMT of the Year Award sponsored by Braun Industries; Dick Ferneau Paid EMS Service of the Year sponsored by Ferno; Impact Volunteer EMS Service of the Year sponsored by Impact Instrumentation, Inc.; and NEMSMA Executive of the Year sponsored by EMS World.

Award recipients receive a $1,000 award stipend, a three-day core program registration to EMS World Expo, plus $1,000 for travel and lodging to attend EMS World Expo and the NAEMT Annual Meeting.

The nomination period for next year’s awards will open in February 2013. Visit

Darling is a EMT-I with Sauk Prairie Ambulance Association, Sauk City, WI, serving with the agency since 1982. He was nominated by his coworker Joe Welsch. Welsch relates that Darling once responded to a pager call while off duty, and saved a pulseless, non-breathing man’s life by starting CPR quickly before the ambulance could arrive. That man he saved was Welsch’s father—and Darling was the reason Welsch became an EMT. “Dean is the best EMT I have ever known,” Welsch says.

As training director for the Sauk Prairie Ambulance Association, Darling has trained every EMT with the service and is highly respected throughout the area for his knowledge of patient care.

“Many nights and weekends you can find Dean helping new and veteran EMTs review skills or teaching new procedures. He is a great teacher, mentor and role model for all of us; his skills as an EMT are unsurpassed and respected by all,” says Kevin Weber, his director at Sauk Prairie Ambulance. “On calls, Dean’s priority is to give quality care and advocate for patients’ health and well-being. He will accept nothing less than the absolute best patient care and treatment. Evidence of this is the numerous hours he spends reading articles and texts to continue to educate himself in the latest trends and techniques, continually practicing his advanced skills and afterwards imparting his knowledge and skills to the members of the service.”

“Dean is always looking for new ways to move the service forward,” says Welsch. Darling has introduced several new programs, including:
A program to fund and place defibrillators in all ambulances. As part of this program, Darling established a field response program: When defibrillators are replaced in ambulances, EMTs now carry the still-useful defibrillators and a medical kit in their personal vehicles in case they need to quickly respond to a cardiac arrest.

The area’s first-ever bike medic program, which allows EMTs on bicycles to respond quickly to patients in very crowded areas during events. This program has cost-effectively saved lives.

Upgrading Sauk Prairie Ambulance from a Basic-level volunteer service to Intermediate IV level. Although all members had to undergo additional training, Darling convinced them it would be best for the community.

Working with law enforcement to form a search and rescue team, prompted by the lack of one to find a missing child. Darling has met with the county sheriff to gain support, and is fundraising.

James Anderson, village president of Sauk City, says, “Dean has worked well above and beyond expectations as a volunteer to keep SPAA a quality service. He has incorporated a number of techniques that give SPAA the ability to deal with more serious traumas as well as routine EMS services. Dean started use of the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) to help with the more extensive injuries and spent a considerable amount of time to make this a quality project. He spoke with local military personnel to learn how CAT was used on the combat field so he could teach the proper application.” Darling also introduced intraosseous (IO) access, Anderson says, spending a good deal of his own time learning the process before he taught the other members of SPAA.

“Without his dedication, this service would not have survived,” says Weber.“I have never met and probably never will meet a person who is as dedicated and giving of his life and who puts his whole heart into EMS as Dean Darling. I would trust my life to him.”

“The work he has done and continues to do for the community is absolutely amazing. Dean is the backbone of the Sauk Prairie Ambulance service and does a phenomenal job,” says Welsch.