Somebody call 9-1-1…

17 Sep

Talk to any student at WVU who has placed a call to 9-1-1 for an emergency recently—they will all tell you the wait time to get a response is too long. It’s an emergency after all, and should be treated as such. But has anyone cared to dig deeper into why the wait is so long and the emergency response teams are understaffed in the area?

After attending a Monongalia County Commission meeting on September 16th at the county court house, I gained deeper insight on the issue and ways to possibly remedy the situation.

According to Eldon Callen, a county commissioner, the problem has been apparent for 2 or 3 years.  It roots from not having an appropriate amount of funding for all the emergency management in the area. This boils down to one main factor- student population.

Callen explained to me that the money collected from emergency phone calls made on cellphones does not go to the area the call is being made but rather the area the cellphone is actually from. This means that money collected on all calls made by out of state students and even students who are from other areas does not go to Monongalia county.

“If we don’t have the money to fund these jobs and services, it will continue to be a health and safety issue for our students and community” Callen said.

During the meeting, Callen motioned to establish a committee to target the issue. The commissioner seemed passionate about getting more funding for students and residents of the area and even sparked a personal interest in me during our conversation.

He was so willing to share with me all the problems we are facing and even offered up possible solutions that he was interested in working on. One idea the commissioner pitched was to start having large event fees, such as adding 25 cents to every WVU football ticket, in order to make sure that each event has enough emergency staff on call.

Callen made a point to say that not enough people are even aware of the problem, so the actions being taken to get a solution might come as a surprise.

“People need to be confident and informed that their money, every penny, is going to increase response times and emergency management.”

After further research, it came to my attention that this is not just a local issue, but a statewide problem as well. Callen mentioned that every county in our state with a college seems to be negatively effected by the technicalities of emergency management fees.

I think the work that Callen is planning on doing would really improve the environment of our community. The county commission is interested in getting more people from the area involved. I agree with this project and hope it plays out so that police and emergency respondents can better serve the WVU community as well as Monongalia county as a whole.

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