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County Hall Corner: Coincidence or Providence?

On some very rare occasions, the COVID shutdowns have actually produced changes that turned out better than what was originally planned. This was true to some degree as the Lycoming Tioga Sullivan Emergency Medical Services Council was unable to hold their annual banquet this year and thus presented their yearly awards for Lycoming County at

On some very rare occasions, the COVID shutdowns have actually produced changes that turned out better than what was originally planned. This was true to some degree as the Lycoming Tioga Sullivan Emergency Medical Services Council was unable to hold their annual banquet this year and thus presented their yearly awards for Lycoming County at the County Commissioner’s Meeting on Tuesday, August 25th.

While a banquet is certainly a wonderful event to gather together all the area workers in the EMS field who get to recognize one of their own for outstanding achievement, this year’s cancellation resulted in these prestigious honors getting a wider recognition than they otherwise would have received.

The irony was how the event itself displayed the people receiving these awards. For example, the first was the 2020 Emergency Medical Responder Award given to Stacey Duffield. One reason why Stacey was receiving the award was her commitment to her work, which she displayed by arriving late because she was busy on a search and rescue. Serving for some 19 years as a Lead Forest Ranger with the Department of Conservation and National Resources, Stacey coordinated the Naloxone program for the Tiadaghton State Forest. Even when DCNR no longer required EMR certification for its rangers, Stacey maintained her certification due to commitment to public safety. Like all those being honored this day, she always did more than what was expected.

The Lycoming County 911 Telecommunicator of the Year, Dustin Williams, was also a no-show because he was filling in for another dispatcher who was too ill to come to work. It was typical of Dustin, as he is the one who is always willing to assist when needed to help cover shifts, train new telecommunicators, and whatever else the department finds itself needing done.

Josh Dorman was awarded the Lycoming County Paramedic of the Year. He went into emergency services following in the footsteps of both his parents. Josh serves as an EMS Instructor at the Harrisburg Area Community College as well as the American Heart Association instructing CPR and ACLS, further imparting his knowledge to a new generation of EMS providers.

Suzanne Dively Smith was Lycoming County’s EMT of the Year, a member of the Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Company, and actively responds to 911 calls and routine transfers. On top of this, Suzanne also serves as secretary of the Lycoming County EMS Council and a member of the Old Lycoming Township Fireman’s Relief Association and on the Susquehanna Regional EMS Operations Committee.

The award holding the highest esteem is the Kline A. Dewire Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award, and this year it was quite unusual. The namesake of the award, Kline Dewire, was born in Hughesville, and when he graduated from East Lycoming High School in 1980, his father Fred talked to John Magyar, owner of an emergency transport service, about his teenage son’s future. Kline had taken an EMT course while in high school and was now thinking about attending paramedic school. Magyar met Kline and was so impressed with him that he hired him to work with his company, teaching him many aspects of the EMS field. Kline Dewire went on to become an outstanding EMS responder and instructor himself. Kline remained friends with his mentor until Kline’s untimely death while on a call of duty on December 17th, 2007.

Coincidentally or providentially, that same man, John W. Magyar, was named this year’s Kline A. Dewire Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award winner. John suffered a stroke last year and is still recovering, so he was unable to receive the award. It was a shame because he truly deserved to be recognized in person.

Beginning his medical career in 1969 as a corpsman in the US Navy, John Magyar would become an instructor in EMT, CPR, First Aid Infection Control Vehicle Rescue, and many other courses and classes over his 40-year career, also instructing for Bucks County Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Penn College. At the same time, John served as a volunteer for the Montgomery Volunteer Fire Company, where he is a lifetime member, and also served with them as an EMT, rescue technician, ambulance captain, secretary, junior advisor, and treasurer.

John W. Magyar has three sons who all went into emergency services — JJ, Mike, and Mark. It was the youngest, Mark, who received the award on behalf of his father. And yet another twist of fate is that John Magyar’s eldest son, JJ Magyar, worked with Kline Dewire, and sadly, was with him on that fateful December night in 2007 when a thoracic aneurysm took his life.

Whether all these circumstances were coincidence or providence, I lean on the side that there must be many heavy-duty guardian angels watching over these amazing public servants. They continually go that extra mile to answer the emergency services call for help. We thank you all!

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