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Just as it does during fires or floods, Twin County E-911’s law enforcement and emergency services community responded quickly when one of its own found himself in need.
Emergency dispatcher Matthew Chappell’s colleagues and friends are working to raise money to buy a wheelchair and cover medical bills after a lengthy hospitalization.
Chappell has made an impression on his co-workers over the years in his full-time position as a dispatcher with the 911 emergency dispatch center in Galax and his part-time job as dispatcher with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, as well as his volunteer work with the Hillsville Fire Department.
For good reason, says Jolena Young, the 911 coordinator for the Twin Counties.
“Fire and rescue members frequently tell me Matthew is a good dispatcher because he stays calm and cool under pressure,” Young told The Gazette. “If we are short-handed, Matthew is one of the first to volunteer to work.”
Chappell loves his job and his coworkers love him, she added.
Chappell’s shift partner and fellow dispatcher for more than eight years, Michelle Newman, says they have grown close both at and outside of work.
The shift consists of three dispatchers, with Sylvia Donithan, and Newman notes that they all “work in a seamless, effective rhythm together.”
More people need to have the drive to work hard and serve their communities as Chappell, Newman said. Besides everything else, he also serves as an amateur radio operator for the fire department and stays active in his church and spends time with family and friends.
“Working together as shift partners for as many years as we have —12 hour shifts, holidays, birthdays and family events — you become family and do things outside of work, like adding a ramp so he can come visit anytime, taking classes together, cookouts, holiday dinners, going to concerts, movies, revivals and trips, like to Carowinds for first roller coaster ride,” she said in a written message.
“I hope Matthew is better and back to all the activities he enjoys and back to work at the 911 center helping others.”
After a recent five-week hospital stay, Chappell needs to buy some medical equipment. Multiple agencies will provide their help to meet the need.
Members of Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Galax police and fire departments, Hillsville police and fire departments, Virginia State Police, Twin County E-911, volunteer rescue squads, Skyview Baptist and other area churches will put their energy toward improving this situation.
Calling it “Hot Chili for Hot Wheels,” the benefit meal has been planned for Oct. 25 from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at both Galax and Hillsville fire stations. The cost of the meal is by donation.
The goal of the benefit is to catch Chappell back up with the medical bills that his paychecks and his insurance doesn’t pay.
“My income from working full time at 911 is what I survive with week to week in paying everyday bills,” Chappell told The Gazette. “Income from working at Carroll County Sheriff Office part-time is what I use to pay on any unscheduled doctor visits and hospital stays.
“So, as you can imagine, living in today’s society, it pays to have more than one job.”
A portion of the proceeds will go towards buying a new and improved wheelchair with the proper cushioning to avoid a return of pressure ulcers.
“The importance of this benefit, in my opinion, is to prevent financial burdens and not land in ‘bankruptcy land,’ and also help me be able to travel back and forth to my everyday workplaces and continue to tell emergency service personnel where to go,” Chappell explained. “This benefit will hopefully eliminate the worry and stress on myself and my family.”
Chappell expressed surprise at the number of first responders and law enforcement who wanted to pitch in and help, even some people he doesn’t personally know.
Being on the public airways — “scanner land” as he called it — might have something to do with that, as well as his being a member of several different organizations.
“There are many great emotions and feelings running through my mind knowing that whatever is raised will be used for the purpose of continuing to do my best and striving to live stronger in the future with the help of the men and women of the police/fire/rescue community, and the 911 workforce, as we are considered to be one big happy family,” Chappell said.
HOT CHILI FOR HOT WHEELS
Benefit For Matthew Chappell
When: Oct. 25, 4-7:30 p.m.
Where: Galax Fire Department and Hillsville Fire Department
Cost: By donation
Take-out meals available.
See members of sponsoring organizations to buy $1 raffle tickets for a chance on several prizes