From: Daviess County Public Schools
DCPS Computer Technicians assist with Muhlenberg County communications
Jason Cunningham and Jeremy Payne, DCPS Computer Technicians, were able to provide valuable assistance to our neighbors in Muhlenberg County last week after that area was hit by significant tornadoes. The storms struck on Tuesday, causing extensive damage and four deaths. Three family members were killed when their trailer was destroyed. “Another death occured because there was no communication,” Cunningham reported. “An older man died when his brother put him in the car to take him to the hospital, but without communication, they had no way to know there was so much debris on the road, they could not reach the hospital.” Cunningham and Payne are both certified for ARES communication — Amateur Radio Emergency Services, also known as “ham radio operations.” When they heard that Muhlenberg County was left without communication, including cell phone service or traditional radio service for police, fire and other emergency responders, they were quick to volunteer. DCPS administrators Mark Owens, Matt Robbins and Tom Shelton immediately gave the “go ahead,” and by Thursday morning, the two-man team was on its way to Muhlenberg County. An Incident Command Center had been set up at the Muhlenberg County Ag Center. After an enthusiastic and appreciative welcome, the guys signed in and were assigned positions. Cunningham went to Muhlenberg County Hospital and Payne was assigned to an elderly-care center at “Ground Zero,” where the tornado had done significant damage. The guys monitored radio frequencies and provided assistance until the state of emergency was lifted across the county. “Mostly, we were there to relieve people who had been on duty since Tuesday night,” Cunningham said, noting that he had relieved an older gentleman who had been working virtually non-stop for approximately 20 hours. Payne acknowledged that their arrival was critical. “The guys who had been working there were exhausted, and that’s when you start making mistakes,” he said. “They were worn out. They were sure glad to see us.” Both men said it was a great experience. They were glad to be able to contribute their skills to those in need and said they would do it again if the need ever arose. “I didn’t do anything heroic, necessarily; I didn’t rush into any burning buildings or anything like that. But people needed help,” Cunningham said. “They were down there in a crisis. They needed help, and Jeremy and I had the qualifications they needed. We made some good friends.” Payne agreed. “I just wanted to help. I hope if something like that ever happens to us in Daviess County, I’d want someone else to come along and help.” Payne is also a member of the Daviess County Search and Rescue Team, and Cunningham is planning to begin work on certification as a volunteer fire fighter in Ohio County, his home county. DCPS is proud of the work our computer technicians do to keep our district “up and running” every day, and we salute these two exceptional employees for their willingness to share their time and talents with our neighbors during their hour of need.