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Jefferson County EMS operations center dedicated

May 14, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

RANSON, W.VA. -- A new $1.2 million operations center for the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency was dedicated Friday morning with these words from the invocation:

"We ask your guidance for each person who goes forth from this place on errands of rescue, safety and mercy ... that they return here from their perilous errands whole and safe ..."

The prayer was written by The Rev. Georgia Du Bose of St. John's Episcopal Church in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., but offered by The Rev. John Bethard of the Charles Town (W.Va) Presbyterian Church. Bethard filled in for DuBose, who was unable to attend.

The 6,700-square-foot center replaces a former gas station the agency had used on the traffic circle in Ranson.

Doug Pittinger, director of the center, said the emergency services agency has 26 EMS and paramedic staffers. Sixteen are full-time employees.

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The agency supports the four volunteer fire departments in Jefferson County by supplying reserve ambulances when needed, but more importantly, by providing trained EMS personnel and paramedics.

The agency provides "chase cars," which are four-wheel drive SUVs equipped with advanced life support gear, to respond simultaneously when volunteer fire department squads are called out on emergencies.

"If they say we're needed, we continue on to the scene," Pittinger said. "If they cancel us, we return to the station. But we go out on every call," he said.

"We ran more than 6,000 calls last year," Pittinger said.

Emergency service agency staffers are regularly assigned to the four county fire departments to ensure that coverage is available 24 hours. Volunteers can't be in the station all the time, Pittinger said.

Inside the sprawling new building on East 16th Avenue are Pittinger's office, complete with a model of a 1959 Cadillac ambulance on his desk. An office next door is for a deputy director, who is yet to be hired.

There is a staff lounge, male and female bunk rooms, a training classroom, a conference room, a kitchen/dining area, laundry, storage and a six-vehicle bay.

Speakers at Friday's dedication included U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd; Tammye Trevino, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing and Community Facilities Program; and Jefferson County Commissioner Patsy Noland.

The Rural Housing and Community Facilities Program loaned Jefferson County the money to build the center.

"Once what was a vision has grown to what you see today," Noland told an audience of about 60 people. The County Commission pledged $100,000 a year toward the building's mortgage, Noland said.

"This is a work of passion," Capito said. "With the growth in Jefferson County, there will be more demand for EMT, fire, police and schools," she said, adding that all efforts to handle the growth will have to be coordinated.

"This backbone here," Capito said, referring to the building behind her as she spoke, "is set for the future of Jefferson County."

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