PARKERSBURG - Wood County 911 Director Randy Lowe is proud of the legacy he leaves behind.
Lowe, the fifth director of the center since its inception, has served in that post for the past nine years. Lowe has submitted his letter of resignation as the 911 center director, his last day on the job is Monday.
He will become the security/safety consultant at DuPont Washington Works.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Randy Lowe served nine years and was the fifth director at the Core Road 911 center which serves Wood and Wirt counties. He stands besides a staff photo board he developed for the lobby entrance of the center.
The resignation is effective Jan. 6, but with holidays and accrued vacation time his actual last day will be Monday.
Earthquakes, derechos, downed telephone lines, budget, staffing, and equipment issues are among the calamities Lowe has seen.
"I'm very proud of the center and to have been part of the team that accomplished so much," Lowe said, noting the center's employee turnover rate is less than the national average. The national rate is around 17 percent, the local center is around 4 percent. Lowe noted the national call answering time is 10 seconds or less, and the local center averages eight seconds or less.
* Wood County commissioners will discuss the 911 director's post during their Monday meeting, considering an interim replacement.
* County officials said they plan to advertise the job internally first.
* Carl Sizemore, assistant 911 director, has been recommended by Lowe as his replacement.
* The first 911 director was Don Smith, followed by Terry Brown, Duane Jones, Bob Newell then Randy Lowe.
"We have emergency medical dispatching quality assurance and our scores are consistently high, which is again a compliment to our dispatchers. We have high overall high quality assurance scores. We also have had less than a 1 percent complaint rate based on call volume. This year we had over 150,000 calls and nine complaints; last year we handled 12 complaints and had over 170,000 calls. Those are complaints from the public and the public safety agencies we serve," Lowe said. "That demonstrates the dispatchers are providing good service to the community."
Lowe was elected four years in a row as the president of the West Virginia 911 Enhancement Council and was president of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. He also was the liason to the West Virginia Legislature and West Virginia Public Service Commission on 911 issues.
"I'm proud of the fact that in nine years we have always come in under budget and I actually reduced the budget while at the same time actually improving the center including keeping abreast of the latest equipment and technology out there, being proactive not reactive," Lowe said.
Lowe said he feels he's leaving the center in good hands and sees no problems with transition.
He has recommended Assistant 911 Director Carl Sizemore to replace him and will work on the transition to the new director.
"He has integrity, knowledge and an excellent rapport with all the staff here as well as all the public safety agencies we serve, I trust him," Lowe said.
Lowe said he's tried to make sure employee pay was fair, the center's equipment was up to date and that staff had training opportunities available to them.
"I have emphasized quality assurance, I started the program here that they didn't have before. I also emphasized not only in-house training, but statewide and national training as well," he said.
Lowe said dispatchers returned from a training conference with the idea for incident dispatching, from the event.
"I thought it was a great idea, it was the same time we were considering a mobile command vehicle. Now we have the vehicle and we can actually dispatch from that vehicle at the scene of the incident," Lowe said.
Lowe created the assistant director position, established a call-taker position, with that individual acting as the sixth person on the shifts when calls are the heaviest. He also established longevity as well as compensatory time off for the dispatchers. Lowe noted the back-up center at the Parkersburg Police Department was enhanced with additional equipment put in place during his tenure.
The process of completing 911 addressing/mapping was done during Lowe's directorship.
"Duane Jones was a huge part of that process, the county chose do go ahead and do it on our own and that worked out well," Lowe said. By assigning street names and addresses it makes it easier for emergency responders to locate properties in rural areas where there were only rural route or post office addresses previously. In addition dispatchers can now call up the maps and actually see a photo of the property when a call comes in.
"We also made the maps available to the public online on our website," Lowe said. "I believe we have one of the more user-friendly websites in the state, and we also established a facebook page for the center."
"It has all been a cooperative effort between the county commission, 911 advisory board, public safety agencies, staff, most importantly the dispatchers," Lowe said.
Staff at the center said Lowe will be missed.
"Randy has brought a commitment of service to the public, it's always been his number one priority. He has asked for the top performance out of all of us. He has set the bar pretty high and we hope we can continue to do that," Sizemore said.
Wood County Emergency Management Director Ed Hupp said a lot of improvements have been made at the center under Lowe's leadership.
"It's going to be a great loss for the center," he said.