One of Kentucky’s forward-thinking, technologically advanced 911 centers is not found in a metro region, but it is found in rural Garrard County. Bluegrass 911 Central Communications is led by Russ Clark, its long-tenured director. Russ has been an Emergency Communications professional for over two decades and possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge about the 911 world. Russ has been in 911 long enough to remember a time before CADs and digital recording systems – when he first started, dispatchers worked with pencils and paper. Over the past 20 years he has seen technology completely transform emergency communications, leading to improved dispatching and emergency response.
But Russ didn’t start his career in 911. Instead, he started his career in public safety as a volunteer fire chief and a member of his county’s 911 board. But he eventually saw a need and became a full-time 911 dispatcher in 2002. After several years taking emergency calls, Russ became assistant director for Lincoln County 911. He has since been the director of multiple 911 centers.
Among many other accomplishments, Russ has been personally involved in some of the earliest PSAP consolidations in Kentucky, merging multiple agencies into one larger Emergency Communications Center (such as Bluegrass 911 Central Communications). This was needed to provide better service, reduce costs, and aid dispatching personnel in the two county region. He has also advised and helped many other counties in the state to merge into regional PSAPs. Technology is obviously a critical element for a successful consolidation project. In regard to advancing PSAP technology, he says: “It’s easier to stay ahead of technology; if you fall too far behind, you’ll never be able to catch back up.”
On the state level, Russ currently serves on the 911 Advisory Board and is the Treasurer for the Kentucky Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. He has also won Kentucky 911 Director of the Year from the Kentucky Emergency Number Association (KENA) and APCO, and he is in the Hall of Fame for each of those organizations.
We’re grateful that the Kentucky 911 community is being led and influenced by people like Russ. His impact will surely be felt for many years to come.