Local News

Female Firsts In Emergency Response Agencies

Howard County is starting 2019 with a new era of leadership in emergency response agencies. Last month, Howard County Executive, Calvin Ball, named Christine Uhlhorn the first female fire chief in Howard County. Now, in Jan. 2019, Ball named veteran Lisa Myers the first African American police chief of the county.

“I am very excited to know that Maryland is supportive of strong women leaders,” said Caroline Siedlecki, a senior at Mt. Hebron.

“In Howard County especially, there is a presence of many women and men, or people who do not refer to themselves as binary, coming from all different backgrounds and being put into leadership positions,” continued Siedlecki.

She described this as encouraging to young children to follow their dreams, and a sense of hope and desire for success in the workplace

“My family has over 250 years in the fire service. I never questioned it. There was nothing else I ever wanted to do,” Uhlhorn told The Baltimore Sun.

The third-generation firefighter, with over 25 years of service, began her career within Howard County at Station 9, Long Reach, as a recruit and medical technician. Since then, she has moved her way up through the ranks and on Dec 17, Calvin Ball assigned her with the role of fire chief.

In the future, Uhlhorn looks forward to making the health and safety of firefighters a number one priority. This includes taking action towards limiting the contact firefighters have with toxins. The firefighting department has already started processes that include keeping contaminated gear away from the firefighter’s access. Additionally, Uhlhorn has been and will continue to make the job more suitable for women. When she first started in 1989, few stations located in Howard County were not fit for women, as they had things such as group showers and provided uniforms that did not fit women well.

Like Uhlhorn, Myers also had to work up through the ranks. She started out as a patrol officer in 1994 within the police department, and had to go through many of the branches before earning the title as police chief. While Ulhorn’s term as fire chief began last month, Myers’ term will begin on Feb 1.

“I’m interested in coming back and picking up where I left off and moving the department forward,” Myers told the Baltimore Sun.

“It’s important that people see our police department and leadership reflect the diversity of the community,” said Myers.

Recently, there has been a power shift in Anne Arundel County, too. The County Executive appointed Trisha Wolford as the first female fire chief on Jan 10, after working as assistant chief in Spokane, Washington since 2017. She will begin her term on Jan 28.

Mt. Hebron Alumni Cassidy Poston said that the two women will strengthen and diversify the forces that protect Howard County and change perspectives within their respective departments.

Poston said, “I think that it’s fantastic that women are being appointed to roles traditionally filled by males. It disproves the stereotype that only men can fill positions of strong, active, and intelligent leaders.”

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