Heroes Honor Heroes At Los Alamos Public Safety Association’s Dinner and Awards Banquet

2013 Public Safety First Responder of the Year award recipients Dena Edwards, left, and Debbi Miller. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
DOE’s John Mitsunaga, second from left, Los Alamos Public Schools teacher Jodi Hughes, center, with her husband Los Alamos Fire Chief Troy Hughes who recently had his hair shaved for charity, sitting with Mike and Lisa Wismer of LANL and UNM-LA respectively. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
 
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post

Saturday was a special night as local public safety and security officials who spend their careers focused on protecting others, honored two inspirational individuals with Public Safety First Responder of the Year awards during the Los Alamos Public Safety Association’s annual dinner and awards banquet. 

This is the first year that LAPSA has presented these special awards. This year’s recipients, Debbi Miller and Dena Edwards are employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Miller was honored for Public Safety Dedication, She has dedicated her personal time for the last 20 years to voluntarily provide service response to search and rescue efforts throughout the state and nation. She is a longtime member of Mountain Canine Corps whose mission is to field canine and personnel to help find missing persons during Search and Rescue events requested by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

Among the many Search and Rescue missions Miller has participated in over the years, on March 13, 2013 she helped successfully locate a person who had become disoriented in the back country near White Rock and Bandelier. She also was part of a regional team who responded to Pilar, N.M., to locate a potentially suicidal person.

Miller and her Black Labrador Colby are certified to respond to urban disasters anywhere in the world and are one of less than 300 such teams in the United States.

“I’d much rather Colby get this recognition,” Miller said.

Miller is one of the primary trainers for the Mountain Canine Corps. She maintains a national certification for search and rescue canine obedience and agility standards. She provides several awareness seminars each year and interfaces with the Los Alamos Police Department, Los Alamos Fire Department, Los Alamos County, New Mexico Department of Public Safety, Ski Patrol, Radio Club, Civil Air Patrol and many others.

Edwards was honored for Public Safety Community Service for her efforts in expanding the Workplace Violence Awareness/Active Shooter program developed at LANL by Division Leader Michael Wismer of LANL’s Physical Security and Group Leader Wade Nelson of LANL’s Security Integration.  

Initially on paper and through online participation, Edwards brought the program to life by allowing employees to act it out in the workplace with Los Alamos Police officers and security force personnel. Just as in fire drills, in the Workplace Violence Awareness/Active Shooter program employees practice what to do when the alarm sounds.

The safe and secure activity helps people understand what they should do in a workplace active shooter event. It’s about being ready for “hearing shots being fired.” In the program, Edwards and her team of security officers and employee assistance team councilors secure a facility, floor or building to enable participants to run through each of the three response-actions in an active shooter/workplace violence scenario. They practice and discuss after each activity what they what they thought, what they did and what they would change or do again for their “Hide, Run and Fight” response to the event.

LANL’s Workplace Violence Awareness/Active Shooter program has now been presented to external organization in Los Alamos County and Northern New Mexico including 48 employees at DOE’s Los Alamos Field Office, 254 staff and faculty at four elementary schools and Los Alamos High School went through the Workplace Violence Awareness, 53 staff and faculty at Pinon Elementary went through the Active Live Shooter Walk Through Scenario and 35 staff and faculty at UNM-LA participated in the Workplace Violence Awareness and Active Live Shooter Walk Through Scenario. Programs also were presented to the YMCA, Los Alamos Methodist Church and Daycare Center and El Centro Family Health Services.

“I believe everyone should be ready for an emergency event,” Edwards said. “I wouldn’t be following my passion if I wasn’t teaching and motivating others to be survivors. I know from experience.”

LAPSA was formed in 2006. The nonprofit organization is comprised of senior police, fire and emergency management personnel, security officials from DOE, Los Alamos National Laboratory and SOC among other safety and security experts.

Saturday’s dinner and awards banquet at Gabriel’s Restaurant also included an Inspirational talk by Executive Director Rick Iannucci of Horses for Heroes – New Mexico, Inc. He has a touching life story and his non-profit organization is credited with doing great work for wounded veterans.

Iannucci is a retired U.S. Marshal and former Green Beret. He commanded a Special Missions Unit in Colombia, has served as an instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point, and was a member of the elite US Marshals Special Operations Group (SOG). He lost his first wife to cancer.

He combines a lifetime of horsemanship training with his military and police special operations training experience into one of a kind program he operates with his new wife Nancy. “Horses For Heroes Cowboy Up!” is based in Santa Fe County and free of charge to Veterans and active military, both men and women, who have sustained PTSD, physical injuries or combat trauma during their time serving America.

“We are not a horse therapy program,” Iannucci said. “We are a skill-set restructuring program.”

He explained that the first casualty of war is many times a wound to the spirit.

“We know there is no one size fits all PTSD,” he said. “Not everyone’s personal experience fits neatly in to the traditional definitions of PTSD and many times defies it.”

Iannucci is the recipient of the Attorney Generals Distinguished Service Award and the US Marshals Service Directors Award for his work in Colombia. In 2010, Iannucci received the American Red Cross Real Heroes Award for his current work with military veterans.

For information about Horses for Heroes, click here

Cori Grider and her husband Deputy Fire Chief Justin Grider who recently had his hair shaved for charity. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos Fire Department EMS Division Fire Chief Ben Stone, left, and Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

2013 First Responder of the Year Debbi Miller, left, recieves applause from the crowd including her husband Vint Miller, right, and LANL’s Wade Nelson, left. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

2013 First Responder of the Year Dena Edwards receives a plaque from LANL’s Michael Wismer as Deputy Fire Chief Justin Grider looks on. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

LANL’s Michael Wismer presents special Los Alamos Public Safety Association medals to Keynote speaker Rick Iannucci and his wife Nancy Iannucci of Horses for Heroes – New Mexico, Inc. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

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