EMS Communications Award

The 2012 Pennsylvania State EMS Awards were held on Monday, November 19th at the Radisson Harrisburg Hotel and Conference Center in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. These annual awards recognize individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding community service as part of Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services system. The awards ceremony is presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of EMS and the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council.

This award honors an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of emergency medical dispatch or EMS communications system planning and administration in Pennsylvania.

This year’s award recipient is the Somerset County 911 Center. Somerset County is located approximately 100 miles east of Pittsburgh in rural Pennsylvania with a population of 77,000. The 911 center is the primary dispatch point for all county police, fire, EMS and haz-mat incidents.

On March 14, 2012 the center coordinated communications for a large mass casualty incident when a school bus collided head-on with a tractor trailer. There were 20 injured students and a fatality in the other vehicle.

The 911 center coordinated 20 EMS units, 7 medical helicopters and multiple fire units. As fortune would have it, the incident occurred at shift change and during a training class, so all available staff rushed to the comm. center to lend their support.

Dispatchers, managers, clerks all came together to position themselves at every available phone and radio console to coordinate first responder activities as quickly and safely as possible. The center’s staff showed through a joint collaboration of expertise by people who don’t normally work side-by-side on a daily basis how to make a bad situation better; their concern was 100% focused on the injured students. 


Donald Potter

PA Emergency Health Services Council



County Annex Office Building
300 North Center Avenue
Somerset, PA 15501
Somerset County Courthouse
111 East Union St.
Somerset, PA 15501