Meet Dominique Side through her own introduction.
My Firefighter’s name is Derrick. He is a career Firefighter Paramedic for the City of Houston Fire Dept. We live in Houston. Come May, I will have spent half my life with this man. We started dating in high school (1997) and married in 2002. We have (4) 2-legged children and (1) 4-legged child. Ha! Our kids are 14yo girl, 12yo boy, 9yo boy, 7yo girl and our 4yo dog. I am a “jack of all trades, master of none” so to speak. I work on a VERY part-time contract basis with clients, providing professional support services (admin asst, personal asst, organizer, coordinator, etc). It’s rewarding for me. I went into the corporate world at 19. I was very fortunate to hold excellent positions while not being degreed. However I consider myself highly educated and well read, so the degree is a bit of a formality. It’s on my “to do “ list. LOL! I left the full-time workforce in July 2010. I have enjoyed being able to work for myself but the convenience of being able to put my family first has been invaluable. I didn’t choose to stay home so that I could do what I’m doing, it just evolved into this. And I’m so grateful. I have grown a lot and learned so much from my children and myself by taking on this role. I have recently begun homeschooling my 6th grader. That’s been an amazing journey so far. I am a worship leader at my church for the bilingual service. This is a quite recent development in my life. I have always loved music. I have recorded and traveled as a member of gospel groups and other projects. But being the worship leader and singing in English & Spanish while I’m not at all fluent in Spanish has been a welcomed challenge. It’s very exciting for me! When my children get a little older I’d like to circle back and pursue music as a career. I love that my Mr. says God is preserving my youth so that I will still be marketable at whatever age that opportunity comes about. Last but certainly not least, I am a Surrogate. I have carried a baby for a couple once already and am in the process of doing it again. As much as I thought I’d be a blessing to someone else, the whole experience actually blessed me and my family. The moment you see someone else become a parent and realize how much you played a part in the process, it humbles you beyond measure. Aside from birthing my own children, there is not another thing that I have ever done that gave me so much pride.
How did you two meet?
Derrick & I went to 2 different high schools. My best friend went to his school but was living with my family. She’d come home every day and talk about this boy in JrROTC that she thought was soooo “fine”. So I finally asked her why she didn’t want to date him. She said he wasn’t her type, but that he was mine. I didn’t believe her because I knew what kind of guys she liked. She told him the same thing and he wasn’t interested either because he knew the people she hung around with at school and they weren’t his type. She bugged us and we finally spoke on the phone. She showed me a picture of him that wasn’t too clear but he looked cute enough. Ha! We spoke on the phone for 2wks straight before we met in person. Once we met it was a done deal.
Was he a fireman when you met or did that come after?
Nope. He actually lost his job not too long after we got married. Literally one month after we closed on our first house. Several months went by and he eventually decided to pursue fire academy. So he got certified as a firefighter and an EMT outside of the department. He took the exam and was accepted into the academy. And here we are. It was never part of the plan. Like NEVER, ha! But we embraced it and it turned out to be his passion. He takes pride in the way he performs his job. He believes patient care is his ministry. He has amazing bedside manner. He decided to continue on with school and is now an RN in the ER at a local hospital. He’s not finished yet, so we’ll see what the future brings.
Do you remember your initial thoughts about him being in the fire service?
I was just happy he was getting a job! Hahaha! I didn’t give much thought to the dangers of the job. His brother has been in the department for 30yrs and I’d never heard of anything happening to him so it never occurred to me to be worried.
Have those thoughts changed? If so, how?
Now, I’ve had several reality checks. I am a fan of his job though. I am very proud of him and what he does. He is very level headed and I trust his judgment so I don’t worry as much. I know his crew and his captain and they are all laid back. But now, I know that it doesn’t matter that he’s primarily on squad (in an ambulance) and not on the pumper. They can get hurt in so many different ways. They are exposed to harm outside of a burning structure in ways I would’ve never imagined.
Has he ever had any close calls?
If he has, I don’t know about them. The only “scare” I’ve had is when he was intubating a patient and the patient spit in his eye. This patient had Hep & HIV. So they kept Derick at the hospital and ran tests, etc. That was scary for us. It had never crossed my mind prior to that incident that anything could happen to him in the back of an ambulance.
May 31st, 2013, Houston suffered the loss of four firefighters in a motel fire that also injured several. How has that day changed you as a firefighter wife?
That day has impacted me in several ways that I probably couldn’t even explain. I hurt for the wives and families of the guys who are suffering life altering injuries. I see Jacki Dowling and I put myself in her shoes and my heart breaks over and over. I don’t know what I’d do with the weight she carries. I’d like to believe I’d be Firestrong and soldier thru it for my husband and my kids. That’s what I’d have to do, right? But the wonderful thing is, a lot of positive came out of that day. 2 months prior to that I had found a local group of Fire Wives that had just begun meeting on a monthly basis. Once “5/31” happened we went from about 150 to over 600 in a matter of days. It was CRAZY!! We spent days making ribbons for the memorial and leaning on one another for support. Now we are an official Auxiliary to the Local 341 and it’s such a great feeling to finally have that sort of sisterhood so close by. So while we will never be the same, I choose to focus on the good that has come out of it and try to be of service to my sisters who are still dealing with the unfortunate outcome of “5/31”.
What helps you keep worrying at bay? (-OR-) What do you do when you are worrying?
I’m too busy. Ha! I don’t have any idle time. I rely on my faith to keep my mental straight but I rely on my kids to drive me insane enough to not remember that I have a legitimate reason to be worried sometimes. HAHA!! I’m kidding. They don’t drive me insane. But seriously, there’s enough do around here while Daddy’s gone to keep me unconcerned. I’m more worried about how much head way I can make on my “to do” list while he’s gone. Will the house be clean in time? Will it smell nice? Do we have eggs?
What is your favorite way to pass time on shift days/nights?
If I can work in something pleasurable it would be a pedicure or lunch with a friend. But that is few & far between. So I mostly walk around like a zombie trying to check off a few things on that list I mentioned. Or I run errands that I can’t justify doing when he’s at home. Haha! Then I pass out as soon as my head hits the pillow. Or if I’m too wired to sleep, I eat ice cream and watch something on TV that he wouldn’t watch.
Perks of being a firefighter wife?
It is built-in to our lives that we will miss each other. We both like that.
What does the Sisterhood provide for you and would you recommend it to all fire wives?
It’s a place where I can go where I know other women will relate to the things that go on in my household that even my family doesn’t get. It means a lot to me to have somewhere I can share my struggles and my triumphs with people who understand the ins and outs of it all. It’s free therapy! Ha!
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