Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, has been named as a member of the Board of Visitors for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Wantz, who served for 40 years as a volunteer firefighter in Carroll, and had a 30-year career as a paid firefighter in Baltimore County, received a letter from the board last week congratulating him on becoming its newest member.
The Times caught up with Wantz to talk about his experience in the public safety field, what he hopes to bring to the board, and how he plans on enhancing the trauma canter's service to the public.
Q: How did your placement on the board come about?
A: In a discussion with Del. Haven Shoemaker, Haven served on the board on previous years. We had a discussion in reference to the fact since he was going off of [the board], there was no representation from [Carroll]. As the conversation led on, he said he would make a phone call, then [the board] in turn contacted me. In the meantime, the folks that serve on the board got a chance to look at my resume. I believe it's been quite some time since they've had an elected official with the experience in emergency services that I have. They were very excited to have someone with the level of experience I have to serve.
Q: What is the board's purpose?
A: Basically, they are a group of individuals who hold elected office or are prominent in communities and everything that they do centers around support of the Shock Trauma Center and all of their associated resources. They support the Maryland State Police helicopter program, because of the fact they are the elite transport vehicles to deliver patients to that facility. They support families and the networks of everything that goes on when you are a patient there at the trauma center. They also support monetarily throughout the year the trauma center, and as a result of that they have several [fundraising] events so that they can strengthen their financial commitment.
Q: What can you bring to this board that may be lacking or even enhance?
A: With everything I've seen over the years, I've virtually participated in every aspect, from firefighting to emergency medical services. Along with my volunteer service in Carroll, I was also a career firefighter in Baltimore County where I served for 30 years. With the combination of what I've seen over the years in both jurisdictions, I've been on the front line, and the back of the ambulance. I think I can bring that front-line experience to their board, which I think will enhance what they try to do down there. I can bring them a level of experience I don't know that they've had; a voice, if you will, of the first responders. I can bring a different aspect to that group that will go a long way in the support that they provide.
Q: What goals have you set for yourself during your time on the board?
A: Everyone knows what the center is. If you talk to folks and get some of the feeling for our system in Baltimore, we are extremely lucky to have what we have. In fact, this trauma center is probably one of a kind, and lot of people move to this area because we have this valuable resource. The outreach we can provide to educate folks on exactly what they do down there and the amount of lives saved I think is crucial. I want to continue that, to make sure folks understand what it takes to run that trauma center, and perhaps to increase the support they need so they can continue to provide those services. Outreach will be one of the biggest things I do. I also want to look at [my presence] as sort of a voice from Carroll County on that board. If there are ever any questions or issues that arise, I feel as if by serving on that board I'll be able to address them from a local standpoint which I think will help our first responders here. I can be a resource for our providers here in Carroll as a liaison to that hospital.
Q: How long do you plan on staying a member of the board?
A: It's a two-year term, and they title them as renewable terms. They invite members that are in good standing to continue as long as they wish. My intent is to be active with them and to participate in as many things as I can. We'll see how the first two-year term goes and we'll go from there.