Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter
In 1993, Tim Thomas was working as an electrician, wiring Walker County’s first 911 call center in the courthouse basement. Today, Tim serves as the Director of E-911, managing Walker County’s current call center and giving back to the community he has always called home.
After his stint as an electrician, Tim became a Reserve Officer with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office while studying Criminal Justice, Criminalistics, and Forensics at Wallace State Community College. He spent 25 years working in investigations and information technology.
However, in 2017, Tim decided it was time for something new when a position with E-911 became available.
“It was just something that was intriguing. I had been with the sheriff’s department for over 25 years working in child crimes. I was looking for something different than what I was doing,” he says. “So, that’s why I put in my application, and as Paul Harvey would say, ‘The rest is history.’”
In November 2017, Tim was appointed Director of E-911 and fully assumed the position in January 2018. The ‘E’ in E-911 stands for ‘enhanced,’ as Tim says that 911 technology keeps advancing. Its most recent update includes Geospatial Routing, allowing the dispatcher to pinpoint the caller’s exact location within Walker and the surrounding counties using telecommunication companies such as AT&T or Verizon.
As Director, Tim manages E-911’s day-to-day operations, such as finances, equipment and technical issues, and daily business and responsibilities.
Because of his job, Tim discovered one of his new favorite hobbies: Amateur Radio. He is now the Alabama Section Emergency Coordinator, coordinating statewide Amateur Radio-related emergency responses and helping dispatch emergency response teams. He also works with the National Weather Service, Walker County ARES, and a group called ALERT (Alabama Emergency Response Team) to gather and communicate information on damage reports and dangerous weather threats.
“A normal day for us is someone else’s worst nightmare. We’re handling situations that are outside the normal for most people,” says Tim. “It’s a sense of accomplishment and pride when you’re able to help not only people that you don’t know but the people that you do know, and just knowing that what you’re doing is making a difference.” WL
To learn more about Walker County E-911, please visit walker911.org