Provided by Prince William County
The Virginia Association of Counties recently released its list of 2015 Achievement Award winners and three Prince William County agencies garnered four awards from the organization that, according to its mission statement, “exists to support county officials and to effectively represent, promote and protect interests of counties to better serve the people of Virginia.”
The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, the Risk Management Division of the County’s Finance Department and the Office of Executive Management were the award winners. Here is a list of the award-winning programs:
The Department of Fire and Rescue’s Ebola Response Plan won recognition because it provided the framework for systematic guidelines for public safety. In October 2014, county staff had been monitoring the Ebola outbreak in Africa and deemed it to be a “significant potential risk and hazard to the region and emergency medical response personnel.” County staff determined that policies and procedures in place at the time were inadequate to mitigate the effects and handle any cases of Ebola. In collaboration with Prince William County Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Health and the county’s Public Safety Communications Center, the Department of Fire and Rescue developed a comprehensive plan of treatment protocols, decontamination plans, training and procedures to address medical and personal needs in the event of exposure.
Fire and Rescue’s Emergency Medical Services, or EMS, Training Division keeps paramedics up-to-date with the latest life-saving, medical techniques. Under the division’s Sustainable Evidence-Based EMS Education program, paramedic training was largely moved from the traditional classroom setting to put paramedics in weekly practice sessions in simulated medical situations. Additionally, the division partnered with multiple hospital and healthcare organizations, the police department, social services, as well as community experts to “create direct links from students to experts in specialty areas of curriculum.” The program was designed to promote teamwork, creativity, excellence and responsibility.
The Risk Management Division won an achievement award for establishing its Infectious Disease Exposure Control Policy and Plan for the Assessment, Management and Control of Occupational Exposure to Infectious Pathogens plan. The plan expanded the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s, or OSHA, Bloodbourne Pathogens Standard. The OSHA standard requires that employers determine and list job classifications for employees that have occupational exposure to bloodbourne pathogens, along with a list of the tasks performed by those employees. The expanded county plan, which took two years to develop, simplified the reporting process for employers and employees with a one-page flow chart on how to report, treat and document exposure to pathogens. The plan also designated Fire and Rescue Health and Safety Officers, or HSOs, as the primary exposure incident managers for the entire county. Having an HSO as incident manager made sense because they have training, relationships with medical providers and knowledge to make competent incident command decisions and to compassionately address the concerns of employees.
Prince William County Government encompasses more than 26 government agencies which frequently receive requests from county residents who want to volunteer in the community. In the past five years, Prince William County government has had 20,665 volunteers, across all departments, who contributed 725,655 hours to county agencies. To recognize the volunteers, the County established the Volunteer of the Quarter program 25 years ago to provide an “innovative means to ensure that all volunteers, who so diligently and freely give their time and talents, can be nominated and recognized for their contributions.” Those chosen for Volunteer of the Quarter receive a personal letter from the County Executive, an invitation for them and their families to attend a recognition at a Board of County Supervisor’s meeting, and a plaque with their photo which is displayed in the county’s administration building and then given to the volunteer. The county recognizes their contribution in a way that acknowledges their generosity and showcases the many wonderful stories about volunteers. More than 100 citizens whose volunteer efforts have positively impacted the community have been recognized. The program’s costs are the printing and framing of a quarterly plaque; yet its rewards are priceless.