"I tried to reassure him help was on the way," McKean recalled. "I tried to keep his heart rate down and keep him calm. I also tried to get as much information as I could."
McKean, 43, said he is devoted to emergency services - he is a former volunteer firefighter and has worked in communications for several law enforcement agencies.
"I try to visualize the situation," he said of answering 911 calls. "To get a picture of what's going on."
McKean and the other 58 employees who man those phones never know what will be on the other end of the line. People who call have heard shots, have seen a shooting, have had a car wreck or witnessed one.
Sometimes storms and disasters produce more calls than usual - the recent derecho brought McKean and others to the center to handle a huge number of calls for help. He slept on the floor when he wasn't working.
"There's a saying, 'Minutes save lives, dispatchers save seconds,'" McKean said.
Dispatchers have to be calm, speak clearly, know the local geography and be able to multi-task, he said.
"Staying on the phone with people is the big key," he said. "Sometimes people don't want to give us much information. We are the only eyes and ears for the police department before they get there."
"I'm impressed," said Rutherford, who only recently took over as director of the 911 center. "This is a specialty."
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cher...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.