About Kate in Emergency Services


As of 2019, Kate Dernocoeur was a newly-retired EMT-firefighter, but still a nationally registered Wilderness-EMT. It was December, 1973 on a two-week NOLS winter mountaineering course when she first heard the term “Emergency Medical Technician,” and at that moment she snapped her fingers, pointed at the group and proclaimed, “THAT’s what I want to do.” She went back to college, and while there, was co-instructor for Greg Bett’s “Mountain and Woods-Oriented First Aid and Rescue” course at colleges throughout New England. After graduation (she earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University’s College of Communication in 1976, and in 2010 an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Western Michigan University), she returned to her Colorado mountains where she was already part of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group.

After a stint as a 911 dispatcher (Town of Vail, 1976-1977), she finally had the chance to earn her EMT at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver, and worked for a private ambulance service in Denver for a year. Paramedic training (Cycle 7 at St. Anthony Hospital, 1978) led to a position with Denver’s famous Paramedic Division from 1979 to 1986, with two breaks to travel and write her first book. When she moved to Michigan in 1987, she left field work to focus on writing (which led to great speaking opportunities), focusing primarily on EMS audiences.

Kate has written numerous books, articles and columns for emergency service personnel. In 1979, she wrote the second cover article for JEMS, and many more after that. She was also an active speaker at many EMS conferences for more than 20 years. Streetsense: Communication, Safety & Control (4th ed. pending in 2019), is her best-known work.

Kate also co-authored the seminal book for dispatching, Principles of Emergency Medical Dispatch with Dr. Jeff Clawson, MD (first edition, 1988, now in multiple languages and its 4th edition). She was editor of one of the first online EMS magazines, MERGInet, from 2000-2003.

A Colorado native and mountain girl at heart, Kate has lived in western Michigan since 1987, and since 1996 in rural Vergennes Township a mile from the pavement up a gravel road. From 2011 to 2019, she was an EMT-firefighter with Ada (Michigan) Fire Department. She joined Kent County (MI) Search & Rescue’s K9 Unit in 2011 and began work as a Medical Examiner Investigator (MEI) in 2016.