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New chief stresses fund-raising, diversity of service

January 10, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport Ambulance Chief Warren "Bo" Miller wants the public to know that fire and ambulance companies are there for more than just emergencies.

Residents can stop by Williamsport Ambulance Service for free blood pressure testing by its medical professionals, and many fire departments go door-to-door checking smoke alarms and distributing "Tot Finder" stickers, he said.

On Jan. 1, Miller, 31, of Hagerstown, became the ambulance company's chief, replacing Dave Hays.

It will be one of his goals to promote what he sees as the rescue company's "changing role in society," he said.

Born in Williamsport, Miller graduated from the town's high school in 1987 and became interested in firefighting after hearing about it from a firefighter cousin.

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He joined the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Department in 1988 and received his emergency medical training certification a year later.

After fighting fires there for about four years, Miller decided to volunteer with Williamsport Ambulance Service, which at the time was having staffing difficulties. A volunteer shortage was forcing the company to fail on calls, he said.

"We (Williamsport Fire Department) were going on more and more ambulance assist calls (to aid Williamsport Ambulance), so I thought why not just volunteer there," he said.

For a while Miller volunteered at both companies until deciding that it was too much.

"It was taking a lot out of me. So I looked at both, and at the time the ambulance company was bleeding (because of its staffing problems)," said Miller.

Over the years at Williamsport Ambulance, Miller served as lieutenant, rescue lieutenant, deputy chief and assistant chief prior to taking over for Hays.

Miller said he admired the former chief's leadership ability and accomplishments and hopes to be able to do as well in the position.

Hays said he has confidence in Miller's abilities.

"He's very aggressive. He does what he sets out to do," he said.

Hays said Miller excels at fund-raising, and those skills will serve him well in following through on the company's plans to build a new ambulance station.

In June 1999, Williamsport spent $185,000 on a 3-acre plot of land on Hopewell Road near Interstate 81 and U.S. 11 to accommodate its growing fleet.

The company has been at its 30 W. Salisbury St. location for more than 30 years and responds to more than 1,000 calls a year, he said.

The building is expected to take three to five years to complete, depending on the company's finances, he said.

The building will have five bays, all high enough to accommodate large vehicles, and a 150-seat banquet room that will be rented out to pay construction loans.

Miller said he will research potential grants that might help Williamsport pay for its new station.

Employed for the past nine years as a correctional officer for the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Miller is married to Melissa Miller, 29, and has two children, Greg, 5, and Hannah, 3.

He also is a certified diver for the Washington County Underwater Rescue/Recovery Team, which he, Hays and other members of area fire and rescue companies helped establish.

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