Howard County Recognizes Johns Hopkins APL’s Wilt as Volunteer of the Year
Dan Wilt is presented a plaque for Volunteer of the Year by (from left) the Office of Emergency Management's Mike Hinson, County Executive Calvin Ball and County Chief Information Officer Brandee Ganz.
Credit: Howard County Government
Tue, 04/04/2023 - 09:36
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) device physicist Dan Wilt was named the Howard County Emergency Management Volunteer of the Year for his dedication to county safety and advancing emergency response capabilities.
County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Office of Emergency Management presented Wilt with the award at a ceremony on March 28. The annual award recognizes an individual who volunteers time to assist in preparing for, responding to, and mitigating or recovering from emergency incidents or disasters in Howard County.
“Dan has a special and often unrecognized set of technical skills as an amateur radio operator and chooses to support his community,” said Ball. “Many people might not know about the critical role these radios could play in an emergency, but they would be invaluable to our communication and our ability to respond to our neighbor’s needs if phones, power or other communication systems were unavailable. Thank you, Dan, for always stepping up to serve Howard County, and congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.”
A Howard County resident for nearly 20 years, Wilt is a board member of the Columbia Amateur Radio Association (CARA) and leads the Howard County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES). In 2022, Wilt served more than 150 volunteer hours at RACES activities and events. In addition, he spent many more hours developing training guides and plans for his fellow operators to ensure first responders and others could communicate during the worst of emergencies.
Wilt has supported the county during hurricanes and snowstorms and at public service events. He recalled one particular event where he had to jump into action. He was stationed along the course of a lengthy bike ride when a cyclist crashed after encountering loose gravel at high speed, severely injuring himself. Wilt quickly called for first aid assistance and helped stabilize the rider until paramedics arrived.
Dan Wilt shares remarks at the ceremony for Howard County Volunteer of the Year.
Credit: Howard County Government
Wilt’s interest in amateur radio began after a high school teacher invited him to join a newly formed amateur radio club. He and friends tested out radio equipment and called other radio amateurs from around the world. As a high school student, the farthest contact he made was with an armed services station in Vietnam using Morse code.
Amateur radio spurred Wilt’s interest in electronics and communications, which led to a bachelor’s degree in math and physics and a doctorate in applied physics. He says that hands-on experience with amateur radio helped him be more adept at conducting research and taught him to look at scientific problems from a practical standpoint.
“Amateur radio provides an opportunity to make a difference and give back to the community,” said Wilt. “The county devotes significant resources to support the RACES capability and sees real value in our services. I’m grateful for the support and resources they have provided and am deeply honored to be recognized.”
For CARA, Dan’s efforts to coordinate training and exercises help build the skills, competence and consistency of a range of qualified operators to be prepared for any incident well into the future. He also volunteers to assist with other assignments through the county's Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD), including staffing Howard County's pandemic vaccination sites.
"Dan has committed substantial hours to emergency communications and public service events for Howard County and beyond," said Nancy McAllister, assistant RACES officer and CARA member. "He is always willing to mentor others and help them further develop their skills. Dan is sharp and knows the latest communications technologies and couples that with a kind, gentle and thoughtful spirit. This extraordinary combination makes him an outstanding role model for others and a perfect pick for Howard County OEM's Volunteer of the Year 2022."
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.