April 10-16 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and a tradition in Hanover County had been to honor its Emergency Communications Officers in a formal ceremony recognizing Officers for their dedication, service and sacrifice during the previous year. Due to the limitations mandated by the COVID pandemic, the County had not had the opportunity to present awards in a formal setting since 2019. However, on April 11, 2022, the County’s Department of Emergency Communications was again able to hold a ceremony to honor its outstanding Communications officers.
At the formal recognition ceremony at the Emergency Communications Building on April 11, The Honorable Angela Kelly-Wiecek, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, read and presented Cheryl Buchanan, Director of the Public Safety Emergency Communications Center with a Proclamation honoring the Hanover Public Safety Communications Officers for their dedication, service and sacrifice. Each year the Board of Supervisors establishes the second week in April as Hanover County Emergency Communications Officer Week. Ms. Kelly-Wiecek, representing the entire Board of Supervisors, praised all Hanover County Emergency Communications personnel for their service, noting the stress and demands placed on them every day, along with the great job they do.
Beginning the ceremony, the 2020 award winners were recognized in the following categories since no ceremony could be held last year due to the pandemic:
Best overall automated dispatch score: Kim Mills (score of 9.71% out of 10)
Communications Training Officer of the Year: Kendal (Marable) Best
Individual Performance in Critical Incident (CPR Drowning): Liz Limerick
Supervisor of the Year: Preston Main
Heins Dedication to Duty Award: Chelsea Davis
Team Performance in Critical Incident (ATV Accident involving 3 juveniles): Kari Magner, Liz Limerick, Eddie Eacho, Susan Ballou, Donald Reamer, Diane Branch, Stacey Adams, Preston Main, Dawn Drewry, Cheryl Buchanan, Charles Smith, Ar’Kea McDowney, Casey Lawrence, Megan Nixon and Kendal (Marable) Best.
Communications Officer of the Year: Shannon Harrell
The 2021 Award winners were:
Kayla O’Bryant was honored as Hanover County Emergency Communications Officer of the Year for 2021. Kayla was hired September 1, 2016 as a Communications Officer I. She is an Emergency Communications Officer First Class and has been serving with Hanover for over 5 years. Previously O’Bryant worked for the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time Deputy Sheriff where she worked for over 1 year. “We are extremely proud of Kayla for her service to our County, the department, our user agencies and especially to the citizens of Hanover County,” stated Charlie Udriet, Deputy Director of Emergency Communications. Udriet also announced that Kayla has been chosen by the Virginia Chapter of APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) to receive the Stephen Souder Communications Officer of the Year award for the Commonwealth. Kayla will be formally recognized during the State Conference to be held in Virginia Beach in May.
Also honored for Outstanding Team Performance during a critical incident involving a Mental Subject with a Knife were the following members: Nick Tragesser, Kendal Marable, Susan Ballou, Ar’Kea McDowney, Sara Lindamood, Kelley Jones, T.J. Jennings and Liz Limerick. Their performance was a great example of how emergency communications personnel work together during a time of crisis and perform as a great team during stressful events.
Communications Officer Liz Limerick was recognized as the Communications Training Officer of the Year for 2021, Senior Supervisor Ar’Kea McDowney was recognized as the Supervisor of the Year for 2021 and Acting Communications Systems Manager Craig Seckman as Radio Technician of the Year for 2021.
Communications Officer’s Eddie Eacho and Shannon Harrell received the annual Heins “Dedication to Duty” award for a tie in receiving the highest number of peer recognition cards for 2021. This award is named after Retired Director Phil Heins who served as Director for over 30 years.
Several personnel were recognized for their years of service: Kendal Marable, Jay Crown, Susan Ballou, Kayla O’Bryant (5 years), Curt Shaffer (10 Years), Lisa Bryant and Preston Main (15 years) and Angie Conley (30 years).
The Department also recognized Communications Officer Susan Ballou for her outstanding performance utilizing the department’s automated Dispatch Protocols for having the highest annual combined score’s for 2021 of 9.87% out of 10.
Udriet expressed a special thanks to the entire emergency communications department for their hard work and dedication throughout this past year in dealing with all the stress and issues that come with the job of serving in Public Safety Emergency Communications, especially during the time of COVID. We salute you all for your service and sacrifice.
Other Board of Supervisors members in attendance during the April 11 ceremony were W. Canova Peterson, IV (Mechanicsville District), Susan Dibble (South Anna District), Sean Davis (Henry District) and Michael Herzberg (Cold Harbor District). Also attending were John Budesky, County Administrator, and Deputy County Administrators Jim Taylor, Dr. Jay Brown and Todd Kilduff, along with Trip Chalkley, Commonwealth’s Attorney; Ashland Police Chief Doug Goodman; Assistant Chief Chris Anderson of Hanover Fire/EMS; Major Ricky Dandridge and Major Judd Flagg of the Hanover Sheriff’s Office; as well as various department heads and County government personnel.
For more information about Hanover County Public Safety Emergency Communications, contact Charlie Udriet, Deputy Director of Emergency Communications, at 365-6311.