Volunteers pitch in for EMA

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2005

Jim Lumpkin keeps about a dozen cigars in his shirt pocket.

All of them are Honduran tobacco. He said he gets them in Tampa, Fla.

Unlike other workers at the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency, the volunteer never has to take a smoke break.

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“I chew them,” he said.

Which means Lumpkin, one of the EMA’s new volunteers, can stay closer to the phones.

Lumpkin is one of 10 volunteers at the EMA, who are called upon whenever they’re needed.

Brett Howard, EMA director, said the group operates a lot like a volunteer fire department, called out whenever an emergency hits.

Five of them camped out at the EMA office during the stormy weather Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Howard said they did fine.

“They’re doing good,” Howard said. “Probably better that I am.”

They’re being trained to operate the EMA computer and phone system, and how to dispatch help where it’s needed.

The five riding out the storm at the EMA said they all had their reasons for being part of the program.

Lumpkin said he was there to fill his post-retirement days.

The former communication tech said he was able to apply information he got from his last job to his volunteer work.

“I hung it up,” he said. “Now I spend my nights down here.”

Sue Watters said she was in the EMA office to fulfill what she considered a call to duty.

“After 9/11, when the President formed the homeland security, I though it might be something to do,” Watters said. “When I got the opportunity to volunteer, I did.”

Marilyn Hall wanted to continue the work she did for the Red Cross.

“I’d done disaster work with the Red Cross,” she said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back into it.”

Debby Travis just sent her youngest child off to college. She said she needed something to do.

“I was looking for something to fill the hours,” she said. “I thought this was something I would be interested in.”

Pam Cook, an EMA full-time worker, said she was thrilled to have the extra help.

“I love them,” she said.