When third generation local resident, Nancy DuVall, graduated from Lake Placid High School, she wanted to jump right into the workforce. Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), she found her niche working for Highlands County as a 911 dispatcher. DuVall shared it felt like the right fit from the start.
“When I graduated, I knew I didn’t want to work in retail, but in a high adrenaline job I could really enjoy.”
DuVall’s father was a volunteer Firefighter/EMT and her brother, a paramedic. She preferred something more behind the scenes.
Most comfortable out of the spotlight, she found the “hidden” career of dispatcher a perfect compromise. Sharing she struggles at times with face to face conversation, she readily enjoys phones communication and says she can talk on the phone all day long.
Beginning her career at the tender age of 20, this self-professed night owl originally worked overnights from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. When the county and Sheriff’s Department consolidated in 2007, her hours changed to a 12-hour shift rotation. The young wife and mother of two also began alternating every two months between nights and days.
Her husband, Lance DuVall, a Paramedic Supervisor for Highlands County Fire Rescue, also worked shift work so the peculiar hours weren’t such a difficulty after all. Despite rotating work schedules and the demands of a young family, both Nancy and her husband serve the community in other ways too. She and her husband are active with Youth for Christ locally and also at the National Summer Camp in North Carolina. Nancy serves as volunteer support for the leadership team while her husband, Lance, aids on the medical team. Feeling a call to ministry for several years, she shared she has begun to honor that nudge.
“After 20 years in dispatch, I felt a strong desire to serve. When it began to fall into place, I took the leap.”
Approached by leadership of Grace Bible Church about taking on a part-time position, DuVall realized it wasn’t quite the right time or fit. There were months of tears, prayers and soul-searching. When a different opportunity arose, DuVall had prepared to take the plunge.
“I really loved my career. After being a full time dispatcher for 20 years, it was a struggle to begin letting go.”
DuVall moved into a part-time dispatch position which afforded her opportunity to begin serving at her church. While two part-time jobs and a volunteer position might seem like more than enough for a busy, young mom, Nancy also found time to bring another member of her family into service within the community.
Penny, a brindle-coated dachshund, was adopted by the family three years ago during Adoption Day at Sebring Petco. Her sweet demeanor led to numerous people suggesting she be trained for pet therapy.
DuVall joined up with Cornerstone Hospice and completed her own volunteer training before taking Penny through testing via Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Facilitated by a fellow Cornerstone Hospice volunteer, DuVall and Penny breezed through the processing and now visit local elder care facilities. As Penny brings smiles and warm memories back to the residents, Nancy quietly converses with each senior.
“She’s just so relaxed and laid back. Her calm personality is perfect,” admitted DuVall. “She’s happy to just sit there and be loved on.”
While she has always served, it was after assisting the community following Hurricane Irma that DuVall felt the press to serve on a much greater level. As she worked in the church temporary distribution center before heading to her dispatch position answering 911 calls, she realized her true calling.
“Once things got back to normal, I decided to make serving my goal. I honestly don’t want any recognition. I’m just doing what I know I’m meant to.”