Fort Sill's Red Cross center celebrates expansion

Fort Sill's Red Cross center celebrates expansion

FORT SILL, Okla._The Red Cross and Fort Sill celebrated the recent expansion of the Emergency Communication Call Center on post.

The Red Cross decided to consolidate its 'Services to the Armed Forces' program. Two months ago, they added 47 new employees to the Fort Sill center, almost doubling their staff. Thursday's ceremony gave them a chance to show the role the center plays as a communication link between service members around the world to their families back home. Officials singled out two workers who played vital roles in saving a soldier's life just a few days ago.

Ethel Pennington said the call, unfortunately, was typical. It came from a woman named Mary who lived in Killeen, Texas. She was concerned about her husband, John, who was stationed in South Korea.

"She was upset, the spouse was upset, and of course on my end I have to be the calm one. So, I reassured her we were going to handle this and expedite it as fast as we could," Pennington explained.

While Pennington was on the phone with Mary, her husband was found and his commanded was contacted. Within minutes, John's commander found him face down in his barracks. They quickly got him the treatment he needed and now, he is back home with his family in Texas.

"That is our protocol, whenever we get those calls we have to treat them at high level priority," Pennington said.

The manager of the Emergency Communications Call Center, Carl Smith, says this is only one of the many examples of the call center's value.

"We are here to service the men and women around the world, around the globe, 24/7 and we are here to ensure we support out military community," Smith said.

Pennington says she realizes she is there to help out someone in need each day.

"Sometimes you don't know how serious the call is going be, so I just went about my daily routine. I just really felt like I was doing my job. That is what we are here for," Pennington said.

The call center takes roughly 1,500 to 1,600 calls each day. Last year alone, the call center handled more than 400 suicide interventions.

The call center is open 24/7. It is the only Red Cross Emergency Communication Center on a military installation.