County dispatching supervisor wins state award

Shenandoah County emergency services dispatcher Jennifer Bowman works at her console inside the county's Communications Center in Woodstock. Bowman, a shift supervisor, recently received the 2016 Governor's EMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to EMS Telecommunications. Rich Cooley/Daily

Jennifer Bowman, a shift supervisor with Shenandoah County Department of Emergency Communications, has been recognized for her service with the Governor’s EMS Award.

Bowman, of Star Tannery, has worked for the department for the last 16 years and was selected from emergency dispatchers from across the state.

Bowman was too busy working to accept the award in person. She said this is the first time the award has been won by a Shenandoah County worker.

“There was a banquet, however being short staffed I was not able to attend that banquet. It was my weekend to work and I had nobody to cover the shift so a friend of mine accepted the award for me,” she said.

Winning the award came as a surprise.

“For the Governor’s Award I was pretty shocked,” she said. “I was speechless, basically. I didn’t know what to say.”

Bowman’s career with the county’s Department of Emergency Communications has taken different forms throughout her tenure. She began as a basic communications officer for her first four years before being promoted to shift supervisor in 2004. She also served as interim director during the transition period of the last director.
Bowman explained why she does the work she does.

“I just like helping people,” she said. “It was always a fascination watching the local shows about 911. Basically just to help people. Things like that. It’s something I always wanted to do.”

She said it was nice to be recognized for her work. She said that many don’t realize the time commitment required to be an effective dispatcher.

“Every call that I take is important to me,” she said. “I handle them all the same way,  whether it’s an emergency or not an emergency. A lot of people don’t know what we do. We don’t get recognized like we should. This was an honor for me because somebody actually said ‘hey’ and recognized what we do.”

Jason Malloy, director of the county department, said that Bowman embodies the work ethic required to make a successful department tick.

“Jen’s always been (a) very hard worker and very dedicated. She certainly puts the time in to make sure the job gets done and make sure the shifts are covered,” he said.

Malloy said that, to his knowledge, the Governor’s EMS Award is the “only award at the state level that is given out for emergency communications outside of the professional associations that we have in the state.”

Malloy also echoed Bowman’s sentiment that those who choose to work in emergency communications do so because they genuinely care.

“This is certainly the type of job where you come to work every day not because of the pay but because you love the profession,” he said.” If I would have to pick one thing that would have potentially set her apart from other nominees I would have to say her dedication to the job.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com