In Athens, Georgia awards were given during a joint awards banquet with APCO and NENA, the largest communications representatives in the nation naming Vance and her team as director and center of the year.
“It was a great honor, a very great honor to be recognized in the state,” said Vance. “I have always said Gordon County is not the largest, we are not the smallest, but we strive to be the best we can be, to be as professional as we can be, and I think my staff has really stepped up to the plate and shown just how good a center we are and I hope the people of Gordon County are going to be proud of what we do and how we do it.”
The nominations for the awards are sent out of state to be nominated by other chapters, according to Vance, who says this makes it even more special.
Award recipients are chosen from a slate of nominees from around the state.
Nominations were sent to the Florida NENA chapter who reviewed the nominations and make recommendations as to the winners. Having another chapter review the nominations removes any chance of favoritism or loss of objectivity; so that everyone can be assured that the winning nominations were considered and awarded to the most deserving nominee, according to a press release from the Georgia Emergency Communications Conference (GECC).
The award of the Georgia Director of the Year is given to an individual that performs the duties of the Director in recognition of their accomplishments in encouraging, motivating and supporting their employees, as well as contributing to their community, region and state.
Vance has been director for four years, serving a total of 13 years with the 911 center, and has worked to establish staff of the center not as just a stepping stone to public safety, but as a separate entity of public safety.
“We have actually turned that around to where now 911 is a part of public safety and they look at it as a career,” said Vance. “That was a goal fro me personally to turn that around, and I don’t have a turnover rate like it used to be several years back.”
The award of the Georgia 9-1-1 Center of the Year is given to a center that exhibits outstanding professionalism, leadership, and innovation, and service to the community it serves, as well as to its region and state.
“We hope the citizens and visitors to Gordon County, you never want to have to call 911, but we are here if you need us and we hope people recognize what this staff does,” said Vance. “They work 12 hour shifts and they take some pretty strenuous and stressful calls, but they do their job and do it everyday and I hope the people of Gordon County appreciate what they do.”
For Vance, there is personal satisfaction in the recognition, but credits Gordon County Administrator Randy Dowling for supporting and helping her work outside of Gordon County.
“I am on the APCO board, board of 911 Director’s Association, the legislative end of the state for communications,” said Vance. “Randy Dowling has been phenomenal about supporting me going outside Gordon County, to help build 911, so we are definitely hoping to win other awards or possibly even bring this award home again, it was very exciting and it really meant a lot to all of us.”
Vance and her staff were also recognized by the Gordon County Commissioners for their achievement at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board, Sept. 18.
“Debbie is very deserving of the award as well as her staff. We never really want to call 911, but when we do, I am so glad and thankful that they are there,” said County Commissioner Chair Judy Bailey. “I really appreciate the fact that I know almost all of you personally, and I feel really at ease when I do have to call. I really appreciate you and you deserve this award.”
The Georgia Emergency Communication Conference is a joint effort to bring together the resources of the Georgia Chapters of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officers (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the two largest and most powerful organizations dedicated to the improvement and advancement of public safety communication in the world to the people of Georgia.