The September and October Dare County Employee of the Month awards were presented at the Oct. 2 meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners.
Angie Austin, who serves as an administrative technician for the Dare County EMS Department, was named Dare County Employee of the Month for September 2023. The award was presented to Austin by Dare County EMS Director Jennie Collins.
Austin began her career with Dare County on September 25, 2017, when she was initially hired as an administrative specialist for Dare County EMS before being promoted to the position of administrative technician on December 25, 2022. In her current role as an administrative technician for Dare County EMS, Austin is tasked with a variety of important responsibilities, which include serving as the Dare County EMS Department’s billing coordinator.
“She has daily interactions with our billing company and the public, as well as all of the workers within the department,” said Collins. “She is the person who answers the phone when you have a billing question or if you need a report for anything—for your own insurance, for law enforcement getting reports, for the medical examiner, for tissue bank donations—all those who have a need to have a copy of the patient care report form legally—she is the one that takes care of that.”
Austin also works closely with the area hospitals and care facilities to which Dare County EMS transports patients on a daily basis, sets up scheduled ambulance transports, provides HIPAA training for EMS personnel and ensures that the department remains compliant with all of the associated federal guidelines and regulations that protect patient information from being disclosed.
In addition to these tasks, Austin is also responsible for handling requisitions for Dare County EMS Department purchase orders, assisting EMS staff members with tracking packing slips and payments, as well as setting up accounts for the various vendors Dare County partners with that support training and supplies for all aspects of emergency service delivery needs that the department performs.
“Anything that has anything to do with the finance side of operations runs through Angie’s desk,” said Collins, who went on to praise Austin for her pleasant demeanor, professionalism and ability to provide an exceptional level of customer service in every situation she encounters.
“Her nomination really was to recognize all those efforts, but she does all of this with a smile, and she is great motivation for anybody. It [can be] the grumpiest person that may be calling, and it may be full of emotion, and she can put them at ease—and even the saltiest soul will leave with a smile on their face after talking with Angie. That’s a specific talent to be able to have, and Angie certainly has that.”
Collins’ remarks were also echoed by Austin’s colleagues within the Dare County EMS Department, one of whom wrote the following in their Employee of the Month nomination form: “[Angie] is being nominated for her teamwork and willingness to assist her peers with the county’s finance and budgetary knowledge, especially during the end of the fiscal year. She does all of this with a smile on her face and in good spirits—always laughing or making jokes to keep up the morale of those around her and keeps the environment a positive one! The care and passion she provides to her peers and community is evident and sincerely acknowledged by all. We are certainly proud of her efforts and impact on others.”
Stephanie Banfield, who serves as the public relations coordinator for the Dare County Public Relations Department, was named Dare County’s Employee of the Month for October 2023. Banfield was presented with the award by Dorothy Hester, who serves as the county’s public information director.
During her Employee of the Month presentation, Hester highlighted the substantial contributions that Banfield has made through her efforts to collaborate with county officials and staff members from numerous departments since she initially began her service to Dare County on September 8, 2020.
“Stephanie has been working with the county as public relations coordinator for just over three years,” said Hester. “She jumped in and never missed a beat. With her background in journalism and marketing, she has easily acclimated to the position and learned all aspects of our operations.”
In her role as public relations coordinator, Banfield is tasked with a variety of responsibilities, including writing news releases informing citizens about important actions and initiatives undertaken by the Dare County Board of Commissioners, planning and developing crisis communications, crafting website content and copy for county resolutions, creating video scripts, and developing key talking points and the answers to an array of frequently asked questions, among many others.
She also works closely with virtually every department in Dare County to promote county services, events and activities and to communicate program changes and project updates, and she develops copy for an assortment of print and digital communication materials—such as newsletters, brochures, signage, program flyers, forms and listings, event invitations and various county department webpages—all with the goal of increasing citizens’ awareness and understanding of county departments, services, programs, events and initiatives.
“To give you an idea of just how much writing is involved, the Public Relations Department has sent 379 news releases over the past year to more than 25,000 subscribers. That’s just over one press release a day,” said Hester. “In addition to press releases, there are brochures, flyers, correspondence, talking points, resolutions, video scripts, public service announcements, web content including FAQs, crisis communications and newsletters.”
Banfield was nominated for the Employee of the Month award by the Fessenden Center’s leisure activities supervisor, Susan Gray, who interacts with her closely each month to coordinate the center’s monthly newsletter.
“Stephanie is always so helpful answering any questions I have concerning our monthly newsletter process,” said Gray. “She has great knowledge of the rules of the English language and proper grammar. She is happy to clarify any questions I have with great pleasure, and she edits beautifully and represents the county with her department in a wonderful light.”
Recognizing the importance of increasing citizens’ awareness and understanding of Dare County services and initiatives, Banfield has played an active and integral role in expanding the county’s communications regarding its many current and future projects, programs and initiatives. In January 2023, Banfield launched a monthly Dare County eNewsletter that provides a comprehensive overview of the various programs, services, events and activities that are offered throughout Dare County departments.
An Iowa native who grew up vacationing on the Outer Banks since the age of 8, Banfield earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa in 2007 and previously worked for a higher education marketing firm, a daily newspaper and an Outer Banks vacation rental company, as well as two magazine publishing companies headquartered in Raleigh, where she resided before relocating to Dare County in 2015.
“Stephanie’s writing, editing, design, marketing and communication skills—coupled with her passion and love for the Outer Banks and its people—make her an excellent public relations coordinator for Dare County,” said Hester. “Thank you, Stephanie, for all you do for not only our department, but for all Dare County departments.”