The Times West Virginian

Local News

April 17, 2014

Behind-the-scenes emergency workers honored

Marion County 911 Center employees recognized by county

FAIRMONT — The Marion County Commission is recognizing the individuals who work behind the scenes when an emergency happens.

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners signed a proclamation for National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week in Marion County. The proclamation recognizes individuals working at the Marion County 911 Center.

Chris McIntire, director of the Marion County 911 Center, told commissioners he is proud of what dispatchers and employees at the center do. He said the special week in April each year provides an opportunity to recognize the hardworking people behind the scenes of an emergency.

“They help dispatch emergency calls and get responders on the road,” McIntire said.

McIntire said the dispatchers have a challenging job, and the staff at the Marion County 911 Center is grateful for the support of the county commission and the community.

“It’s a job for someone who cares about their community and wants to make a difference,” he said.

Two to four years is the time span McIntire said dispatchers typically stay on staff. He said that’s not a long time before a person working as a dispatcher decides to leave.

County Commission President Butch Tennant said he appreciates what the dispatchers and staff at the Marion County 911 Center do.

“It’s a great accomplishment that we have here in Marion County with the 911 center,” he said.

Tennant said it’s important to recognize the dispatchers and staff from the Marion County 911 Center.

“Every time someone calls 911, one of those people is talking to them,” he said. “They’re unsung heroes.”

Emergency calls to 911 are at an all-time high in Marion County, according to Tennant. He said there have been more 911 calls in Marion County in the past year than ever before.

“That just shows you how important (the Marion County 911 Center) is,” Tennant said.

He also said there are several reasons dispatchers choose to leave the job, including the pay and the stress that comes with dealing with emergencies over the phone.

“We have brought their pay up where it’s a decent wage with benefits,” Tennant said. “I think we’ll see more people staying. But we do lose a lot of people that go on to different jobs because of the pay.”

The stress of talking with a person who might be panicking is a lot to deal with, according to Tennant.

“They’re trying to keep them calm and relaxed,” he said.

Tennant said he hopes the new 911 center and changing the hours a dispatcher works will help decrease the number of employees leaving.

During the presenting of the proclamation, McIntire introduced the 911 center’s new dispatchers, including Chris Griffith, Chris Halpenny, Tessa Domico, Kiley Parson, Joe Waggamon and Jimmy Cox.

“We’re very proud of the staff we have there and the job that they do for Marion County,” he said.

Commissioner Randy Elliott said the staff at the 911 center works in a great environment.

“As far as the building and everything, it’s second to none, in my opinion,” he said.

In other business:

• Commissioners approved the hiring of Homer Hess and Michael Link for the holding/security division at the Marion County Sheriff’s Department pending a background check. If hired, their starting salary will be $23,174.88 with benefits.

• The Program Advancing Community Employment (PACE) Project in Monongah requested a donation from the commission of $2,000. Don Harris, a volunteer with PACE, said Monongah donated a building for PACE to work out of, but it needs repairs.

Harris said the Town of Monongah donated $500. Commissioners said they will take further steps to see if PACE fits the requirements for a donation and that they would need a written request from PACE.

• D.D. Meighen told commissioners a Fairmont General Hospital appreciation day will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Knights of Columbus in Fairmont.

“It will offer to the public an opportunity to meet the staff and participate in some of the free screenings,” Meighen said.

• The next county commission meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the J. Harper Meredith Building in Fairmont.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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