Catawba County News

Emergency Services Honored with State Award

Emergency Services Honored with State Award

Published: May 02, 2022

HICKORY – Catawba County Emergency Services was selected as the North Carolina Public Health Association’s 2021 Partner of the Year for their work alongside Catawba County Public Health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They were recognized at an awards ceremony on April 28 in Asheville.

Emergency Services staff have attended countless Zoom and one-on-one meetings and consulted with county leadership, communications teams, teams working on data projects, communicable disease staff, the Public Health Epidemiology team, state emergency management officials, and local community partners, helping keep everyone moving forward together.

“Emergency Services has been a critical part of our response, and we are grateful to have such a collaborative, supportive partner in COVID-19 response,” said Catawba County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken. “Their hard work has been instrumental to our county’s response. From the very beginning, they were ‘bought in’ and approached the pandemic through the lens of partnership. They have continually ‘shown up’ with resources, tools, supplies and valuable expertise. They sacrificed time with their family and friends to ensure that Public Health was supported.”

Emergency Services assisted Public Health with planning and logistics beginning in February 2020, helping lay the groundwork for Catawba County’s response before our first case was ever reported. Emergency Services planned what an emergency declaration would mean for our county alongside Public Health and county leadership, then facilitated that declaration’s issuance on March 18, 2020. Our first case was reported just days later, on March 20. Because of their years of experience in emergency planning and response, they recognized that working in tandem with Public Health would be critical to the response and two members of Emergency Services leadership moved in with Public Health. They immediately began helping coordinate response efforts, planning, compiling daily data, looking at organizational and community needs and helping meet them through obtaining county and state resources – personnel, personal protective equipment and more.

“COVID-19 was truly a ‘One Team, One Mission’ response in Catawba County,” stated Bryan Blanton, Emergency Services Director. “Everyone at both Emergency Services and Public Health have been impacted in many ways both professionally and personally but the strength of our partnership made this incredibly difficult work manageable.”

Since that time, they have been a seamless extension of Public Health, with Emergency Services staff, including EMS and emergency management personnel, helping stand up a testing site in the Public Health parking lot and vaccination site at the Hickory Metro Convention Center, and providing support and expertise all along the way.  

“They were here early mornings, late evenings, and every weekend for more than a year to support our work. Catawba County Public Health’s pandemic response has been swift, strong and innovative, thanks to the additional depth that emergency Services brought to the table,” McCracken said.