ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) took home four awards at this year’s Maryland Emergency Management Association (MDEMA) 2024 Symposium in Ocean City. OEM was awarded Mitigation/Prevention Emergency Management Project of the Year, Preparedness Emergency Management Project of the Year, Maryland Rookie Emergency Manager of the Year and the Business & Industry Recognition Award.

Congratulations to our OEM Director Maria Bernadzikowski and her team for this well-deserved recognition. This is the first time any jurisdiction in Maryland has been awarded at least four awards and speaks volumes to the work OEM puts forth daily to ensure Howard County is resilient, safe, secure and prepared for any emergency or disaster that may come our way.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

OEM’s Community Hazard Handbook was awarded the Mitigation/Prevention Emergency Management Project of the Year. This award recognizes a program that has focused on long-term strategies that protect lives and reduce the impact of disasters, and honors recipients who have taken an integrated approach to structural or non-structural mitigation techniques that increase the overall protection of their community. Updated last year, OEM’s Community Hazard Handbook provides an overview of the 25 human-caused and natural hazards that may pose a threat to Howard County and how best to prepare for each.  

OEM also received the Preparedness Emergency Management Project of the Year award for its “Outreach and Preparedness Plan: An Inclusive Approach.” This award recognizes a program that has developed an innovative structure to prepare its community or organization for disasters, and honors recipients who have taken outstanding steps towards preparedness, which may include plan or legislative development, exercise execution, volunteer management, or a community project or training. This project performed multiple analyses by looking at maps of severe weather patterns, dam inundation and flood plains, food insecurity, population demographics, and areas with high concentrations of assisted living facilities and nursing homes to identify parts of the county that would benefit the most from learning about the various hazards affecting Howard County and the many ways residents can be more prepared and resilient.

MDEMA recognized OEM’s Lauren Chilton with its Maryland Rookie Emergency Manager of the Year. This award annually recognizes one individual working in state or local emergency management who has less than three years direct emergency management experience. Lauren has been with the office since May 2022, bringing a background in homeland security, international affairs and emergency management coordination from the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. Through her dedication and performance, Lauren has proven herself to be extremely innovative, proactive and budding leader in the office and the state. She has independently taken OEM’s mitigation and outreach programs to a new level, all while mentoring new staff, continuously looking for areas of improvement within her own work and projects, and serving on the Maryland Incident Management Team. She is excellent at handling sensitive questions and facilitating difficult groups, all well maintaining a positive attitude. Lauren is a thorough public servant, a true team player and exemplifies the future of emergency management. 

Finally, the Historic Ellicott City (HEC) Camera Network LLC was recognized with MDEMA’s Business & Industry Recognition Award. This award honors companies or organizations who have made significant contributions toward improving or supporting emergency management activities and are credited with providing identifiable support for local and state government or industry disaster preparedness within Maryland. Comprised of several cameras, 12 of which are direct views of waterways, culverts, etc., the HEC Camera Network is a privately-owned, closed circuit video monitoring system shared with OEM and key flood response partners, that monitors the water levels at key points known to have previously flooded in the Tiber-Hudson River. 

I am incredibly proud of our team and thankful to MDEMA for recognizing their hard work and ingenuity.  They are beyond deserving of this recognition. Emergency management work is not accomplished in a silo and we a grateful to all of our partners that make the collaboration towards these efforts successful.

Maria Bernadzikowski
OEM Director

About OEM

OEM’s mission is to provide centralization, coordination and facilitation of multi-agency emergency planning, training and exercise, and to holistically minimize and reduce the impacts of natural and human-caused disasters through proactive prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. The office strives to promote and foster an environment for a resilient Howard County that is safe, secure and prepared for emergencies and disasters with the support of a robust emergency management program committed to protecting all residents, businesses and visitors, to preserving the quality of life and the environment, and to quickly recovering and returning to normalcy whenever and however impacted.

To learn more about OEM, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/emergency-management

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

Stay Connected!

Sign up for the County Executive's weekly newsletter and stay up to date on everything Howard County.

Zip Code