Mason County 911 tames the March Lion
On March 1st before 6am as most of Mason County was waking up the on duty Telecommunicators of the Mason County E-911 Center were busy with the first of several large weather cells crossing into Mason County. Driving & blinding rain, significant damaging winds, small hail and high water were all results of these storm cells passing through the area.
According to Deputy Director Faulk, the call volume at 911 always increases when there are weather events in the county, however this event generated a larger than normal amount of incoming calls. Faulk stated that during the second large system that moved through, the Telecommunicators handled sixty five emergency calls in a 1 hour time frame. Normally that time of morning we would average about 6 or 7 emergency calls. Before noon time, the 911 Center had dispatch sixty nine CAD emergency events to the first responders of Mason County. Faulk goes on the say that during the height of the storm Mason County 911 was operating with 5 simultaneous Telecommunicators, when normal operations uses 2. Faulk acknowledged the assistance of the deputy EMS Director Karen Jones for assistance in the 911 operations also.
Faulk states that this weather event did not just impact a single community area in the county, but instead was a county-wide event. Fortunately there was not a single weather related injury report to the 911 Center. There were rumors of a tornado touch-down in the Northern area of Mason County, however no one was able to substantiate that report. “We had received all of the traditional locations with roadway flooding that we come to expect from these types of weather events,” Faulk stated however “this particularly wet situation also caused a hill side slip on Graham Station Road in Mount Alto to occur twice, once closing the roadway until the Division of Highways cleared it, and also in the West Columbia area along the cliffs there were debris slides that came down to rest under the guardrail but have not yet encroached on Ohio River Road.” Other damage reported included a culvert that was washed out in Debbie Road area, multiple utility lines and poles down or broken, road closures from tree’s that were toppled in the loose soil and wind.
In addition to the normal functions related to 911 emergency dispatch, the Mason County 911 Center has responsibility for community safety and notification. At 9:33 am the National Weather Service had posted a tornado warning for Mason County. Mason County PRO Officer Fields of Wahama High School and Faulk discussed the incoming weather system to assure the safety of the staff and students. “That type of cooperation and coordination during these types of weather events between the PRO officers at the school and the 911 Center was great!” Faulk stated.
Faulk states that the Mason County 911 Center also used its mass notification system, called CodeRed, to provide citizen notification of the weather events. Residents who are not familiar with the CodeRed system or would like to sign up for emergency CodeRed events can visit www.masoncountyoes.com
Deputy Director RC Faulk (left) and Shift Supervisor Matthew Shell (right) discuss the priority of calls to be dispatched at the Mason County 911 Center.