By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
911 Center Director Michael Simmons updated the Tucker County Commission on the necessary training that he is conducting with his staff. The trainings are regulatory mandated for all employees in order for the facility to be in compliance.
Tucker County Commissioner Mike Rosenau said the trainings were necessary for the center to remain in operation. “So that is what I want to stress to the public,” Rosenau said. “In order for us to keep our doors open at the 911 Center, the employees have to complete these trainings.”
According to Simmons, there are five disciplines the staff at the Center are requiring instruction in. “We have five disciplines at the Com Center that we are required to maintain that I am now certified to instruct,” Simmons said.
Simmons said that his staff are all through the first of the trainings. “All of our staff are through the first one,” Simmons said. “So, all of the staff are 100 percent through the first one.”
Half of the staff have the second completed and the others will be complete next week, according to Simmons. “And we had 50 percent through the second of five,” Simmons said. “The other 50 percent will get it probably next week.”
The delay was due to needing instruction materials, Simmons said. “We had to wait on manuals to come in,” Simmons said.
Training materials cannot be shared, according to Simmons. “So, you know, the student manuals you can’t share between employees,” Simmons said. “Because there’s a code on the inside you have to send to the state and it goes to each employee. We didn’t have all the books so we could only do half the employees in the first class.”
Rosenau asked Simmons how many employees were fully trained when Simmons became Acting Director. “So let me just recap,” Rosenau said. “The training at the 911 Center was lapse when you took over as Acting Director. How many dispatchers did we have that were fully trained that could continue to keep our doors open?”
Simmons said there were no employees with the required training. “Zero,” Simmons said.
Rosenau recapped that Simmons had been the one to contact the State about the training issues. “So, you contacted the state and working with them to get these in order,” Rosenau said. “That’s the only reason we keep our 911 Center open. Because you took the initiative to contact them, instead of them catching it and contacting us.”
Simmons said the State was lenient due to the fact that they were approached by Simmons rather than discovering the issue at the State level. “They were very specific about that because we came to them to address the problem, they gave us leniency and a time frame to achieve those goals,” Simmons said.
The time frame to address the issues will be reevaluated at the end of the year by the State, according to Simmons. “It will be reevaluated at the end of the year,” Simmons said.
Simmons said that if the State had discovered the fact on their own, the Center would have likely been shut down. “If we had not come to them, they would have caught it,” Simmons said. “They probably, they would have shut us.”
Rosenau thanked Simmons for keeping the Center open. “Our calls would have been going through another county’s,” Rosenau said. “So, I want to thank you for that on behalf of the Commission.”
Rosenau commented on Simmons taking the training to instruct his staff. “Another thing I want to address while we’re on that same thing,” Rosenau said. “Is I like to recap so people know what’s going on. We would have had to of, if you hadn’t taken the imitative, to take the training to be an instructor, we would have had to paid for each one of those classes. At a cost of?”
According to Simmons, if the training could not have been completed in house, the cost to the County would have been $15,000 per employee at $3,000 a class. “$3,000 per employee, per class,” Simmons said. “So that’s 15 grand per employee, per discipline.”
According to Rosenau, Simmons is certified through the State of West Virginia as an instructor for the necessary classes. “So, you took the initiative to take the classes to be an instructor to give our employees the proper training they need to pass their tests and you’re certified through the State of West Virginia now to give those classes,” Rosenau said.
Rosenau thanked Simmons for the cost savings to the County. “So, on behalf of the Commission,” Rosenau said, ‘for saving us thousands of dollars at the 911 Center, we want to thank you.”
According to Simmons, the staff also have a required 24 hours a year of continuing education. “It’s pretty extensive,” Simmons said. “On top of the classes, they have to log 24 hours of continuing education a year,” Simmons said.
The purpose of the continuing education is to stay current within the field. “It just keep people current,” Simmons said.
Rosenau suggested coordinating with the Office of Emergency Management on the upcoming Active Shooter Trainings at the County Schools to help complete some of the required continuing education credits.
The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will be held at 4 p.m. on October 25 at the Tucker County Courthouse Old Courtroom.