911’s first retiree

February 7, 2013


PENTWATER — The fact that there is a winter storm warning today is not really surprising to Kay Feole. After all, today is her last day as a dispatcher for Mason-Oceana 911, and why would you want your last day to be uneventful?

Kay was one of the first dispatcher hired by 911 when it started in 1995. She is also the first person to retire from the community-funded service. She is one of three shift supervisors at the service. Typically there are either two or three dispatchers working the center at one time. It handles police, ambulance and fire calls for both counties.

When she started, the dispatch center was located in the basement of the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office. When calls came in, the dispatchers used pen and paper to record the information.

Now, the service is in a modern building with state-of-the art computer and radio equipment.

“When we dispatched, we couldn’t see the location of the calls. Now, we have GPS which allows us to see where the call is happening. It really helps get emergency crews to the right place.”

There is very little turn-over of employees at 911, plus the dispatchers work in close proximity to each other during their 12-hour shifts. These are some of the reasons why the group is like a big family.

For Kay, it’s more than just a figurative family. Up until last month her husband, Rich, was the executive director.

“Rich started working there a month before I did,” she says.

They started as co-workers and later got married. She says the two always tried to maintain professionalism in the workplace. Rich resigned last week to take a job in Calhoun County.

“It’s been nice to know that we had a job where we supported each other. I knew my spouse completely understood the stress of the job. We worked together side by side.”

Kay says she doesn’t see her self completely retiring. She is looking for another job in southern Michigan where Rich is now working. She has enjoyed dispatching and considers it a good career.

“It definitely was a good career move,” she says about taking on the job in 1995. “It’s very rewarding.”


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