Pocahontas 911 Director: Updates About New 911 Center and Winter Safety Info.

This is the second part of our recent interview with Mike O’Brien, who is the Pocahontas County 911 and Emergency Management Director. If you missed Part 1 of this interview, during which O’Brien talked about improvements to the county’s Emergency Communication Radio system and towers; the status of the 911 Road Signage Program; and the efforts to demolish the former BOE Office building on 5th Avenue in Marlinton.

In today’s portion of the interview, O’Brien updates us about the current status of the proposed new 911 Center which will be located near Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, and he offers tips on how to stay safe during cold and snowy winter days.

Mike, just where do things stand regarding the proposed building of a new 911 Center up near the hospital?

“Tim, as far as the new 911 Center, that first round of grants went through and we were not selected for that, but commissioner Rebinski is getting that ready for second-round funding for that grant,” said O’Brien. “Not sure when we will hear anything on that second-round funding on that grant. But we are hopeful.”

Since right now we are in the middle of winter, is there any advice you can offer regarding staying safe in the cold and snow?

“The thing with winter weather is you got to allow yourself room to stop – plenty of distancing, and, if you don’t have to go, don’t go.”

“Usually, winter storms don’t just pop up, we know they are coming. Prepare a little bit ahead of time. Don’t go out on the roads if you don’t have to go. Drive save (with) caution. Leave plenty of space – following distances – from the car in front of you. And, just prepare.  And in an emergency as a whole, our slogan is: ‘the first 72 (hours) is on you.’  So in the event of a disaster, or even a winter weather storm, have 72 hours at least of food, have water in your house and have supplies to be able to take care of yourself and your family for the first 72 hours. And, if you are a younger person, don’t forget your elderly neighbors, make sure they are OK. Go over there and help them. Make sure they get their walks shoveled off and make sure they are not in any needs as well.”

How about some of the people in the more remote areas that might be snowed in and they might be elderly or maybe even having a heart attack? Can you all reach them?

“Absolutely. We’ll take any means necessary to get to someone. There maybe a situation where we might have to get the Department of Highways involved to help open up a road to get to them if we had to. In severe snowstorms, I know in the next county – down in Greenbrier County- they will actually bring the National Guard in to assist. And, that’s an option for us as well to get things opened up if need be. To my knowledge, since I’ve been here we haven’t had a storm that’s been that bad.”

A lot of folks here in Pocahontas County are able to take care of themselves, and they are really good about helping their neighbors out and it really hasn’t been a problem for us here in the county, but we will do everything in our power to get to you in an emergency, absolutely.”

We hope you find that reassuring as we go through the next month or so of unpredictable winter weather.

Here are a few additional tips for surviving the winter cold. When you do go out, be sure to wear several layers of clothing rather than just one heavy coat. Doing this helps keep you warmer and still allows you to move freely and to remove a layer if you become overheated or sweaty from work or exercise. Also remember to keep a warm blanket in your vehicle in case your car gets stuck on a remote stretch of road and your heater stops working because you have run out of fuel.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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