The North Carolina Emergency Management Association (NCEMA) held its annual meeting recently and presented awards for 2020 and 2021. These awards included the Col. William A. Thompson Award, which is presented to the North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) employee who has demonstrated outstanding achievement assisting local emergency management coordinators with programs, incidents and information. The 2020 Thompson Award recipient is Tim Byers, NCEM Area 6 Coordinator in the Central Branch Office and the 2021 recipient is Dennis Hancock, NCEM Central Branch Manager.
2020 Thompson Award
Byers is recognized for his consistent performance and tireless support to the counties he is assigned, as well as the other partners in his area, the domestic preparedness region and across the NCEM Central Branch. In addition to his communication skills and experience, his ability to consistently get positive results and put people at ease helped him achieve this honor. In his capacity as area coordinator, he is assigned the duties as the executive director for Domestic Preparedness Region. Many people agree that the region is thriving due to Byers’ resource and planning efforts to improve response and prevention capabilities.
Whether being asked to act as branch manager, responding to emergencies and disasters, or planning for emerging threats and issues with his counties, Byers is someone who volunteers for new challenges. Others will often seek his advice to discuss challenging matters, and when challenged with a problem himself he thoroughly analyzes numerous possible solutions prior to bringing the issue to leadership. He is also known as someone who prefers to work behind the scenes while letting others receive the acclaim and is known to provide words of encouragement, especially to those who are assisting with incidents or exercises.
2021 Thompson Award
Hancock received this award in large part because of his support for the counties in the central branch, which includes conducting and evaluating various emergency management trainings. This support also includes serving on local and regional incident management teams and steering committees, including the Piedmont Emergency Animal Response Team. He is instrumental in ensuring counties receive disaster response reimbursement as well as evaluating and providing important feedback and guidance for county emergency operation center and regional projects, such as the regional hazard mitigation plans.
Known to be a mentor, Hancock encourages those around him to challenge themselves. In addition to providing leadership on assignments within and outside of the state during times of crisis, he helps to ensure the response operation is transparent and successful. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he himself took on new and unfamiliar roles, such as future operations planning lead at the state emergency operations center and as the COVID-19 commodity coordinator. His leadership and organizational skills also came into play as one of the unified commanders at the federally supported community vaccination site in Greensboro that administered more than 140,000 vaccinations. These accomplishments were made possible because he prepares his team and entrusts them to keep the branch running in his absence.
2020-2021 James F. Buffalo Award
The 2020 recipient of the James F. Buffalo Award was Sharon Schiro of the Orange County Community Emergency Response Team; the 2021 recipient was the Citizen Soldiers of the North Carolina National Guard. This award is presented to the person outside of the Emergency Management family who has exhibited outstanding support and leadership to emergency management agencies.
2020-2021 Vance E. Kee Award
The Vance E. Kee Award is presented to the local emergency management staff person who demonstrates outstanding achievement in their local emergency management program, through promoting emergency management among other county and state agencies and elected officials. The 2020 recipient is Misty Tabor with Swain County Emergency Management, and the 2021 recipient is Steven Pyle Jr. with Currituck County Emergency Management.
2020-2021 Colonel Phillip Nichlos Waters Award
Robin Caldwell with Cherokee County Emergency Services is the 2020 recipient of the Col. Phillip Nichlos Waters Award and Shane Seagroves of Lee County Emergency Services received it for 2021. This award is presented to the local emergency management coordinator/
director who demonstrates outstanding achievement in their local emergency management program and contributes to the overall good and advancement of the emergency management system in the state.
2020-2021 NCEMA President’s Award
Brent Fisher, outgoing 2019-2020 NCEMA president, recognized Gary Jones with NCEMA and Norma Houston, lecturer in public law and government at the University of North Carolina School of Government with the 2020 NCEMA President’s Award for their dedication, support and contributions beyond what was required to NCEMA. Mary Beth Newns, the outgoing 2020-2021 NCEMA president presented the 2021 NCEMA President’s Award to Michelle Brock, second vice-president, and Robin Caldwell, first vice-president, of NCEMA.
NCEM also awarded several emergency management certifications, recognizing individuals’ efforts to strengthen and enhance the professional competencies of themselves and their local emergency management agencies. These included Vivian Lassiter, Vance County Emergency Operations Department, and Shaun Hayes, City of Jacksonville Fire Department, who were given Associate Level; and Josh Holloman, Johnston County Emergency Services, Executive Level.