Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Prof & First Responder Receives Exclusive Award

The Blanket of Honor award, given to Dr. Hagelgans, has only been given to 332 individuals nationwide.

A national award that honors veterans and first responders has been given to Millersville University’s Dr. Duane Hagelgans. The Blanket of Honor award has only been given to 332 individuals to acknowledge their accomplishments.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this award,” says Hagelgans. “It was totally unexpected. To be chosen to be part of such a small and elite group is truly an honor.”

photo of - Blanket of Honor being wrapped around Dr. Duane Hagelgans.
Blanket of Honor being wrapped around Dr. Duane Hagelgans.

The Blankets of Honor program honors veterans, veteran caregivers, Gold Star Families, veteran support members, or first responders.

“From what I was told, the group receives nominations and then takes into consideration all the work done by those who are nominated to see if they meet the criteria for being chosen and honored,” says Hagelgans. “At the presentation ceremony, they stated that I am the first ever firefighter honored by the Blankets of Honor.”

Hagelgans was inspired at the age of 15 to pursue a career in firefighting and emergency management.

“A friend of mine’s father became the chief of a volunteer fire company.  He was a very dedicated volunteer. I joined the volunteer fire company because of him,” says Hagelgans. “However, my service to people, which is truly what being in these professions is about, comes from my parents. They were both very hardworking, loyal people who would do anything for anyone, which is where I got my drive to help others.”

Hagelgans shares that dealing with injuries and deaths is one of the hardest aspects of emergency management. “In this profession, we deal with people and their worst days. As a profession, we are learning that we must do a better job to protect those in our profession from the emotional toll that dealing with disasters takes on our responders,” says Hagelgans. “In today’s world, the suicide rate for responders is higher than the rate of line-of-duty deaths, and this is not, and cannot be, acceptable. As a society and as professionals, we must take better care of our own, those who give their all to help their communities.”

Hagelgans started teaching at Millersville in 2007 as an adjunct professor and became a full-time faculty member in 2012. He serves on various committees for the emergency management graduate program, the university and in the greater community.  Currently, he is researching better methods to teach emergency preparedness to school-age children and methods for better leadership in the emergency services.

“The number one thing I hope to pass onto my students is to be prepared for whatever life may throw at you,” says Hagelgans. “There is a statement I learned, and it’s often stated, ‘Predictable is Preventable!’ As a society, we can never take the approach that we can be too prepared or that ‘it won’t happen to me.’ Preparedness is the key, and that key is based upon never being complacent.”

Hagelgans credits the emergency management programs at Millersville as a whole when he sees alumni take what they learn in the classroom and apply those skills in emergency situations. “There is nothing like the feeling of seeing our graduates go out and do great work all around the world, helping citizens when disasters strike,” says Hagelgans.

Hagelgans has been involved in emergency services for over 40 years. In 2011, he retired from the Lancaster City Bureau of Fire, where he held numerous positions. In addition to an associate degree in fire science technology from Harrisburg Area Community College, Hagelgans attained a bachelor’s in occupational safety from Millersville University and a Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law.

A video of Hagelgan’s ceremony can be viewed here. 

To learn more about the Blankets of Honor Award, click here. To nominate someone for a blanket, click here.













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