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Disability issue gets answers

November 28, 2010

NEW CUMBERLAND - Four years after an initial request to have special notification for emergency dispatchers regarding disabled individuals, Ward 2 Councilman Harold "Bubba" Miller has gotten some answers from Hancock County Commissioners.

Miller, a member of the Weirton Citizens with Disabilities Commission, stated he approached Hancock County Commissioners and Communications Director Tom Zielinsky four years ago to see about implementing a program that will notify emergency dispatchers at the Hancock County 911 Center of a resident who is disabled and what that disability happens to be.

When emergency responders go to a home, said Miller, they should be informed of the situation they are walking into if a person is blind, deaf, bed- or wheelchair-bound or any other type of disability.

"A few years ago a 35-year-old woman in Pennsylvania was put on hold three times and died in a house fire because she was bed-bound," he said, noting another case in Wellsburg a few years ago. "There is no reason for things like this to happen."

Zielinsky stated the software available in the Hancock County 911 Center has the capabilities Miller is asking for. He said it is now a matter of getting the information to put into the system and finding a way to inform responders without putting that information on the open radio.

"That is the sort of information we cannot broadcast on the open air," said Zielinsky.

Zielinsky said he will continue to work with Miller to come up with a way to bring the idea into reality.

(Dickson can be contacted at

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