Charles County Communications Staffers Earn Public Safety Communications Officials Awards

The Charles County Commissioners are have announced that members of the Charles County Department of Emergency Services Communications staff recently received awards from the Mid-Eastern Chapter (covering Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia) of the Association for Public Safety Communications Officials International (APCO).

Communications Shift Supervisor Christopher A. Thompson won the APCO Line Supervisor (9-1-1 Center) Award. The team of Dispatcher II Lynn D. Gilroy, Dispatcher I William B. Durner, 911 Addressing Specialist Kathy Lewis, Communications Supervisor Christopher Hughes, and EMS Lt. Travis Walden were runners-up for the Unit Citation (9-1-1 Center) Award.

Shift Supervisor Thompson was cited for his service with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Mississippi. When notified that he was needed to relieve the County's Emergency Services Director at the Mississippi Emergency Operations Center, he left with Maryland National Guard with less than a day's notice. Once he arrived and was briefed, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Operations, serving as the "go to guy" for field operations commanders. Initially, he served two weeks, but then went back for another two weeks of service after a two-week hiatus.

In addition to his duties as Shift Supervisor, he is Captain the Charles County Tactical Response (Hazmat) Team, manages communications' public education program, and has played a critical role in the training the users of the County's new 800 MHz radio system.

The team earned its APCO Unit Citation for using a new GIS mapping tool, introduced by 911 Addressing Specialist Lewis, to locate a person who had been severely injured in a four-wheeler accident.

Last September, Dispatcher II Gilroy received a 911 call from a cell phone user who had been in a four-wheeler accident in the wooded area behind Laurel Springs Park in La Plata. The caller, disoriented due to a head injury he received when the four-wheeler turned over on him, was unsure where he was. While questioning the caller and using the GIS mapping tool, Mr. Gilroy was able to locate the caller and determine that he was near the Emergency Services Center (ESC) in an area accessible only by an off-road vehicle. Lt. Walden, who was in the ESC for the shift change, and Dispatcher Durner, secured an off-road vehicle to reach the patient, whom they assessed and readied for transport to a trauma center by a Maryland State Police Medivac Helicopter. Communications Supervisor Hughes coordinated the patient's transport for treatment.

"We extend our sincere congratulations to the members of the Emergency Services staff for their achievement, which reflects their dedication and teamwork to perform critical life-saving services," said the County Commissioners.

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