EMS chief giving up 911 center post

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Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services Director Jerry Newell, shown here in this November 2013 file photo, has given up his dual post as director of Pasquotank-Camden Central Communications to focus on his responsibilities managing EMS operations in the two counties.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pasquotank and Camden counties' ambulance and dispatch services will again have separate directors, following a vote of Pasquotank County commissioners earlier this week.

Commissioners' action means that Jerry Newell will continue to serve as head of Emergency Medical Services. However, he will pass leadership of Central Communications off to Kylie Felton, currently the agency's assistant director.

Newell agreed to lead Central Communications as well as EMS last April. The job of overseeing both agencies may be too much for one person, however.

Pasquotank County Manager Rodney Bunch told commissioners that Newell requested the change last week, and felt “strongly” it was needed.

“He has worked for nine months and given it all that he has, and he doesn't feel he's doing the job he needs to do for both of the agencies,” Bunch said.

In proposing Newell resume go back to his job as EMS director, Bunch recommended reducing his salary to almost $69,000. That's roughly his salary before he became Central Communications director, which came with a roughly $10,000 bump in annual salary.

To replace Newell at Central Communications, Bunch recommended Felton be appointed as interim director for six months. He said she's been doing a “fantastic job” as assistant director, and explained the interim position would give her a chance to earn the permanent job.

Felton is currently paid $44,733 a year, and Bunch proposed she be paid an additional $1,000 a month during her six-month probationary period. If appointed permanent director, Felton’s salary will rise to $52,635, he said.

If Felton becomes permanent director, Bunch also proposed hiring a new training officer in lieu of hiring another assistant director.

Commissioners unanimously approved the request.

In a followup interview, Newell said both EMS and Central Communications need their own leaders. The emergency agencies — which serve both Pasquotank and Camden counties — are becoming increasingly busy while also planning major new projects, he said. He noted EMS is facing growing call volume and needs to plan for more staff, more equipment and larger facilities.

In a separate interview, Felton noted Central Communications fielded 2,000 911 calls last month — which is typical — and has major projects coming as well. The agency is planning to transition to a new emergency services internet protocol network, known as ESInet, that should help it better handle and locate callers on cell phones, she explained.

Central Communications is also working to get a new, state-mandated backup 911 center open next year in Williamston. Routine training at that backup center will place new demands on the agency director's time, she noted.

Felton thanked commissioners for their faith in her, and said she will continue serving the public and first responders well.