BEDFORD — Today, when Dave Cubbison steps out at 4:30 p.m., he’ll step out and begin a new chapter in his life: retirement.
Cubbison spent 20 years as director of the Bedford County Department of Emergency Services and said he plans to take a break, recharge and continue to be involved in the community he learned to love.
Overseeing the emergency management agency and the 911 center has been a challenge, especially with advances in technology, he said.
Although the position includes regular office hours, the manager is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and even on vacation, Cubbison said.
Back to his career “a lot has happened” he said.
“I draw energy from people and have enjoyed the different mixes of experiences I have gained along the way,” Cubison said.
Since he became director in 2002, technology has evolved at a rapid pace.
He has seen the 911 center evolve from a phone and radio station to high-speed texting, mapping, tracking and notifications for first responders.
For Cubbison, keeping up with changing technology has been one of the biggest challenges over the years, but it also helps him do his job better.
During the snowstorm on Monday, April 18, the 911 center received 187 calls between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the center normally receives 150 calls in a 24-hour period.
“So when something happens today, everyone has a cell phone or other device,” Cubison said.
A major improvement has been the way people can contact 911 – by text as well as by phone.
“If someone is in hiding or medically unable to speak, they can text 911,” Cubison said.
However, as calls and services increased, he saw funding for emergency services shrink, with federal and state grants being reduced by up to 20% per year.
With funding dwindling, counties need to be frugal because 911 centers don’t come cheap, he said.
Although funding has not kept pace, Cubbison said he has seen an increase in the number of accidents, emergency medical calls, police calls and fire calls.
“We read and watch the news, and we see that there are so many threatening elements in society,” Cubison said. “Twenty years ago there were threatening elements, but today they are all on the increase…the 911 system and the emergency management system must keep pace.”
Cubbison said he had been through many good and bad situations throughout his career.
“I keep all my memories in a place where I feel they belong” he said. “I love the positive thinking about how people come together and work together to help each other.”
There were times when he was scared and times when he was sad, but Cubbison said he preferred to spend his mental energy thinking about the positive aspects of the challenges of his position.
“Become part of a community, be comfortable and call it home, if you can’t do that then there is an ongoing benefit that will remain over the time you serve in any capacity. “, Cubison said. “Almost immediately, I felt this was my home.”
He felt that he had grown in the trust of the community and that everyone had welcomed him from day one.
“I think the way you do that is if you just be yourself, you don’t lie, you stay authentic as much as possible in that position,” Cubison said.
Over the years, he has been amazed at the resilience of the Bedford community.
Whether it was floods, remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes, snow storms or the 2017 train derailment in Hyndman, he saw residents take care of themselves, their families , then go to their quarters to take care of each other.
“My responsibility then is to reflect that,” Cubison said. “It’s something I’ve tried to do and will continue to do because it’s what the community really needs.”
The support of Commissioners, staff, community and his family has been integral to his longevity as Director, an often stressful job.
“He is a hard worker, direct and direct”, said Don Schwartz, director of the Bedford County Planning Commission. “His heart is in the right place and (he) really has a heart for people.”
Cubbison said faith in God helped him through some of the tough times.
“With a faith that says keep moving, keep being positive as much as you can, that there is hope,” he said. “As long as you have hope, you have the ability to see tomorrow. All of this makes for one more day.
Even though he is retiring, he will remain in the community and continue to be involved in many activities.
“I will continue to pray hard for my family, my neighbors and the things in which I can make a difference”, Cubison said.
He is a member of the Bedford County Players and enjoys playing character roles. He also enjoys singing and looks forward to being more active in his church.
“Dave is an integral part of Bedford and the whole county,” Bedford Borough Director Barbara Diehl said. Because he was tangled in the fabric of Bedford County emergency services for so many years, he will be missed in that role, Diehl said. “But we wish him the best.”
Cubbison has been busy the past two weeks as he has been training and trying to transfer as much knowledge as possible to new Emergency Services Director Alex Delia.
Although it will take Delia some time to fully understand everything, Cubbison said, “He’s going to do a great job.”
When asked if he was going to miss anything, Cubbison said he wasn’t sure, but one thing he looks forward to is getting away from the responsibility of always being. on guard.
He will always be a supporter of emergency services and the community, he said, but wants to focus on caring for his family and other interests.
A native of Butler, Cubbison said Bedford has become his home.
“I live here; I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “After my retirement, I will take a step back and withdraw to recharge my batteries. Then I’ll look to see where I belong.
He turned 60 on April 20 and can now say he lived the first 30 years of his life in Butler and the 30 seconds in Bedford.
Cubbison has been married to his wife, Linda, for 31 years, and they have two adult children, Abby and Noah.
“On May 2, I will go to work like any other day”, Cubison said. “Then around 4:30 p.m. I will exit the building and drive home like every other day.”
Cati Keith, editor of Mirror Staff, can be reached at 814-381-7535.