Marion County Residents Upset Over Sheriff's Dispatch Service - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

07/14/08 - Marion County

Marion County Residents Upset Over Sheriff's Dispatch Service

They believe the Sheriff's dispatch service in their County is failing, and they're trying to make their concerns public. The debate is going on in Marion County, with east Texans that live on the south shore of Lake O' The Pines and the Big Oaks community.

KLTV 7's Bob Hallmark talked to the residents who are worried that the mistakes could cost lives, and to the local sheriff about who is to blame.

The meeting between South Shore residents and its volunteer fire department is about communication. The residents say their local volunteer fire departments could succeed where they believe, the Marion County dispatchers are doing a poor job.

"If it wasn't for this department here, I would not be here today because after she called 911 nobody from that department showed up to my house for 40 minutes," Kenneth Jones told us today.

The accusations from citizens range from incompetence to indifference, but the Sheriff's department says there is much more to this than the average citizen knows.

People we talked to are angry that their own local volunteer departments, which they say are closer, and more able to help immediately, aren't dispatched by the county.

"I joined this department to help my community and we're not being allowed to help the community," said Debbie Todd, a South Shore and Ore City firefighter.

"We're the closest thing they've got. We can provide basic life support for them until an ambulance arrives on scene," said Kaitland Moss, a South Shore VFD firefighter.

"Why would you not send a department that's right in their own neighborhood?"

We asked that question to Marion County's Sheriff Bill McCay.

"Our main concern is get the people who have the contract with the county who are certified have an ambulance and have the ability to handle these emergency calls," said McCay.

"I don't know if any of these people are EMS certified to handle that stuff or not. Nobody has ever brought me any certification."

And now, while the debate continues, McCay says his office will do everything they can to help.

"Our 911 dispatchers are highly trained and we do not deny anybody any kind of help when they call 911. I don't care who they are or where they are."

Marion County contracts out to an EMS service, and they dispatch other units as needed. Citizens may take up the dispatch issue at a commissioner's court meeting.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com

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