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Allegany County Dispatchers To Be Honored

September 9th, 2018 by WCBC Radio

As much of the United States is honoring Patriot Day, a national day to honor victims of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, emergency communication dispatchers are being honored Tuesday, in a separate ceremony to highlight the essential role they play in emergency services.

In October 1986, the United States Congress approved a law designating September 11 as 9-1-1 Emergency Number Day. In recognition of the emergency number system and the dispatchers dedicated to this critical public service, Allegany County observes this date to honor our Joint Communications Center staff.

“Our communications staff is a vital resource to the community. In a person’s time of tragedy and need, our staff is the first voice you hear offering lifesaving instructions and direction,” said Todd Bowman, public information officer for Allegany County Department of Emergency Services.

Allegany County has been answering emergency calls since 1975 and began recognizing its communications staff with three awards provided to distinguished dispatchers. The joint communications center has 24 dispatchers.

Dispatcher of the Year: Melody Siemer

“Melody was selected for her willingness to seek out continuing training and improve her skills,” Joint Communications Chief Bryan Miller said. “She is continually looking for ways to improve herself. She is the first to request to attend training sessions and classes.”

Miller added that Siemer has traveled numerous times over the past year for training.

“She loves her job and strives to be the best. Any time she finds a class that she feels will help her improve her performance, no matter where it’s located, she enrolls and we go,” Daniel Siemer, county DES paramedic and Melody’s husband said. “I am so proud of her…I am like a gloating first time mother.”

“I am honored to receive the Dispatcher of the Year (award),” Melody said. “I believe that this is a team effort to include all members of dispatch, law enforcement, fire and EMS. I am proud to work alongside those that selflessly serve the community.”

Melody was hired in June 2011, holding numerous certifications, she has the ability to answer emergency calls, provide emergency medical dispatch pre-arrival instructions to callers and dispatch police, fire and EMS emergencies, according to Miller.

Melody has completed training in APCO Telecommunication, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch for Emergency Police Dispatch, Emergency Fire Dispatch and Emergency Medical Dispatch, which must be re-certified every two years.

Additionally, Melody is also trained as in Emergency Medical Dispatch through the State of Maryland, certified in CPR and as an emergency medical technician. She is certified thru the state in METERS and CJIS to receive and enter warrants into the system, according to Miller.

Joint Communications Chief Award: Taryn Lohr

“I was extremely surprised that I received the award,” Lohr said. “I had been off on maternity leave for several months.”

Lohr has been with DES since November 2010 and is crossed trained to dispatch police, fire or EMS incidents. She is certified in APCO Telecommunication, The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch for Police, Fire and Medical, the state of Maryland Emergency Dispatch and in CPR. Additionally she is an assistant terminal agency coordinator (TAC) for the states Criminal Justice information system (CJIS) assisting with the verification of all warrants and keeping dispatchers certified in METERS and the CJIS system.

Miller added that Lohr is a communications training officers (CTO), training new hires for the job.

“I really enjoy training at work. Training is a very important part of our job,” Lohr said. “Peoples lives are at our fingertips: citizens, police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel. The responders and dispatchers are like a big family.”

Lohr echoed Siemer’s comment regarding teamwork in the communication center.

“Dispatchers work as a team everyday and every call,” Lohr said.

William “Bill” Lamberson (Big Dog) Award: Mark Karalewitz

“I’m honored and truly humbled to receive this award,” Karalewitz said. “Big Dog, as he was called, was dedicated to this job. He never called off until he got sick at the end.”

“The award is named after Bill Lamberson who had more than 30 years as a dispatcher and was well known for his deep voice and helpful demeanor. He became known as the voice of Allegany County,” Miller said.

Karalewitz said that he and Lamberson rode to work together for several years and their friendship extended beyond the walls of the communication center.

“He came to my house for barbeques and holidays,” Karalewitz said. “My nieces loved him.”

Karalewitz has been with Allegany County since August 2008 and was named the 2017 Dispatcher of the Year.

Mark is a crossed trained in police, fire and EMS dispatching. He is certified in APCO Telecommunication, The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch for Police, Fire and Medical, the State of Maryland Emergency Dispatch and CPR. Additionally, he is certified thru Maryland in METERs and CJIS to receive and enter warrants into the system, when requested to do so by police agencies.

“Big Dog trained me on the EMS side of dispatch. I’m delighted to be listed along with the past honorees of this great award,” Karalewitz said.

Previous years winners select the current winner of this award, according to Miller.

“Allegany County and the surrounding communities are incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated and trained dispatchers working on a daily basis to ensure the appropriate police, fire and EMS resources are dispatched to emergencies in the area,” Allegany County Department of Emergency Services Director Dick DeVore said. “Additionally, our staff is tasked with connecting field EMS units with appropriate hospitals or specialty referral centers, communicating with aviation units and assisting law enforcement operations.”


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