Two Frederick-area first responders win statewide award


“It was her calling, and she said that she was being attacked by a bear, and the first thing I said was…she was being attacked by what?”

“After that, it all became a blur,” said William Andrews, a dispatchers with the Frederick County (Md.) Department of Emergency Communications. “I just tried to get help started to her.”

Andrews recalls when he answered a 911 dispatch call for a woman who got attacked by a bear right outside of her home last November.

His quick response to help the woman is what earned him the Emergency Medical Dispatch Provider of the Year Award, from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. It is a statewide agency that oversees first responders.

“As a director, I’m really proud of one of our dispatchers being recognized as a dispatcher of the year for the entire state,” said communications director John Woelfel. “These guys work tirelessly behind the scenes, and they barely get recognized.”

“I don’t feel like I deserved anything,” Andrews added. “Any one of us could have done it.”

Matthew McKeel, an emergency medical technician, was the second first responder from the county to win an award for an outstanding rescue. Officials said he saved a woman from a burning SUV, after a crash near Thurmont.

Although they both save lives for a living, their humble demeanors make it that much greater for their department.

“It’s always been in my nature,” Andrews said. “I’m a volunteer firefighter.”

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