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Date:  March 20, 2008
Contact:  Marck Jacobsen (406) 233-2831

BLM Employee Receives National Award 

BLM Miles City Field Office Senior Fire Dispatcher Amy Lancaster was awarded the 2007 National Excellence in Dispatching Award in a surprise ceremony March 11 in Butte, marking the first time the prestigious award has been given to a Montana fire dispatcher.

The annual Excellence in Dispatching Award is an interagency award that recognizes individual excellence and contributions to wildland firefighting dispatch and coordination operations.

Each of the 11 Geographic Area Coordination Centers within the U.S. solicited nominations and then selected a final candidate from their area. The Northern Rockies Area Coordination Center in Missoula selected Lancaster from their five regional nominations as the candidate who best represented the standards and selection criteria for the award. 

Lancaster was then one of nine nominations screened by a national interagency selection panel in December of last year and ultimately selected as the recipient of the Excellence in Dispatching Award for 2007.

The award nominees come from any level of the national dispatch or coordination system. Selection criteria for the award was based on five elements; technical proficiency, follow through, attitude and customer service, contributions to the national mobilization operation system and accomplishments from the previous year.

Lancaster seemed a bit taken back by the whole thing.  “It’s an honor, that you do get recognized for the work that you do,” she said in an interview.  Lancaster was attending a dispatcher meeting last week when given the award. The presenters kept the whole deal quiet and presented her the engraved glass crystal award in front of her peers. Lancaster was unaware that she had ever been nominated.

BLM Assistant Center Manager Chuck Wamack, from the National Interagency Coordination Center in Boise, Idaho revived the dispatch award after it went dormant for about four years since its inception in 1988. Wamack presented the award to Lancaster.

“Everyone else was on break and I was up at the front of the room with some other people getting ready to present this award,” he said. “I looked down and there was Amy, sitting down and working. It was very appealing to be able to present this award to Amy.”

“Amy has an incredible work ethic and is always seeking ways to improve our business practices to meet the needs of the customer, said Wamack in an earlier email announcing the presentation. “This award recognizes Amy for her superior performance and contributions to the dispatch community.”

Lancaster oversees the operation of the BLM initial attack dispatch center in Miles City. Her varied duties include coordination between the aviation desk and other Eastern Montana Fire Zone initial attack dispatchers. The center coordinates federal, state and local fire fighting resources, keeps them appraised of local conditions and liaisons with the fire duty officer to provide for effective suppression efforts.

Lancaster’s award marks a milestone for the Montana BLM according to Miles City Dispatch Center Manager Gloria Gunther.

“A dispatcher from eastern Montana has never received this national-level award before,” said Gunther. “The fact that she was selected as the Northern Rockies candidate was a big deal. Quite frankly she’s a top-notch dispatcher.”

For more BLM Miles City Fire Dispatch Center information visit: http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/miles_city_field_office/fire.html.