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‘Woo Woo Doc’ goes home with award


Receiving a New Mexico EMS award, Las Cruces’s Dr. Ben Diven has been recognized for his amazing contribution to the state’s emergency medical services. The state Tim Fleming Medical Director of the Year Award is one of 10 yearly awards given out by the EMS Statewide Advisory Council.

Presenting the award Friday, April 9, statewide committee chair Pete Bellows’ voice cracked a few times as he read about and remembered his experiences with Diven.

Diven is a representative and leader within the state EMS community, Bellows said. Diven is a teacher and medical director and has served on the state Medical Director Committee advising on the scope of the EMS profession.

“Above all, Dr. Diven has provided an example of just how much an individual can change a community for the better,” Bellows said.

Doña Ana Community College (DACC) EMS program director Ann Bellows wrote the nominating letter for the award.

She calls Diven a “home-grown delight,” and said he is always available to support and help the students he has worked with.

“He started out as a paramedic working with an ambulance service before most knew what a paramedic was,” Ann Bellows said in the nomination. “When I met him, he called himself the ‘Woo Woo Doc,” because he teased he would have to stick his head out the window and shout ‘woo woo’ to clear traffic as he responded to calls since the service would not provide him with a siren.”

The nomination letter outlines that Diven moved from being a paramedic to medical school and then moved back to Las Cruces to work in the emergency room at Memorial General Hospital and to be the medical director for local ambulance services. He served as medical director through many ownerships and provided medical direction to New Mexico State University and fire departments.

“He educated students with his quiet sense of humor and art (cartoons and photography),” Ann Bellows said in the letter. “I recall many hand-drawn cartoons that could make a difficult concept become clear, and still have a few in my treasured lectures.”

Diven was instrumental in nurturing DACC through its growing periods and still is, she said.

Currently, Diven serves as the medical director for the Las Cruces Fire Department, Doña Ana County Fire and Rescue Department, NMSU Fire Department, NMSU Police Department, Mesilla Valley Dispatch and the DACC EMS Program.

“I have a lot of services, but they don’t keep me as busy as you might think,” Diven said.

He has written the EMS treatment guidelines and protocols for each agency, he said.

“Las Cruces Fire is 107 pages long,” he said. “I wrote, started from scratch, and you have to keep them updated all the time because there is always new information.”


Diven does quality assurance, review and dealing with problem cases that come up, he said. The side effects and patient complaints come through him. At DACC, he helps with student reviews, writes protocols and lectures.

“I assume all of the legal liability for the behavior of the EMTs. That’s just part of the package,” he said. “I have to be insured for medical liability.”

There are about 350 EMTs in the area and luckily for Diven, they “don’t screw up very often.”

“The citizens of the city and county have no idea how good they have got it,” Diven said. “My job, in terms of stamping out fires and trouble, is very easy. They are well trained and know what they are doing.”

The best part of his job, Diven said, is interacting with the EMTs, which he doesn’t get to do nearly as often as he would like.

“It is crucial to know that he is always there and that he cares, and that the system would not be what it is in Doña Ana County without him,” Pete Bellows said.