Woman named Preston County Telecommunicator of the Year

KINGWOOD — Jana Wolfe has been helping people since she was 15.

“My dad (Ray Hall) was president of the Tunnelton Ambulance. He was a driver there for

24 years, and I just followed in his path,” she said.

She was an EMT for six years, and about 11 years ago took a job with Preston 911, where Wolfe was recently named the 2018 Preston County Public Safety Telecommunicator of The Year.

The job requires multi-tasking, Wolfe said. Telecommunicators, also called dispatchers,  may be talking on two  phones and a radio all at once, while also communicating with a co-worker. All this while dealing with life-threatening situations that would cause many people to collapse under the stress.

“It’s kind of you have to separate yourself away from the situation and say, ‘I need to be here to help these people; that’s what I’m here for.’ And you just have to try and calm them down as well, so you have to be calm to work with them as well,” she said.

That doesn’t mean dispatchers aren’t feeling the impact of calls, Wolfe said. Last week marked the fourth anniversary of the day she took a call about the accident that took the life of a dear friend and co-worker, Lewis Brown.

“That was the worst one I’ve ever had,” Wolfe said, her voice catching. “He was my trainer, and I absolutely loved Lewis, and I’ve always wanted to make him proud.”

She’s also taken a call when her own children were involved in an auto accident, but thankfully they were all safe.

“Probably the most rewarding  is always just getting the people the help they need fastest and determining their illness,” to get them the type of assistance they need quickly.

“It’s all rewarding. Just to help people is great,” Wolfe said.

Dispatchers don’t always know the outcome of calls, Wolfe noted, though local first responders try to update them about the outcome. And sometimes the people they help contact them.

“It’s always great to hear somebody say, ‘Hey, thank you for helping me,’ ” she said.

Wolfe is the night shift supervisor and helps to train new dispatchers. She is also an assistant to Flood Plain Coordinator Clark Nicklow. She coaches middle school cross country and cheerleading.

Preston OEM/911 Director Duane Hamilton said she, “has proven her desire to move up the ladder by being a team player.” She was honored at last week’s Preston County Commission meeting and received a special jacket. Her name will also be added to a plaque at the 911 center noting recipients of the honor.