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Honoring our Veterans

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  • Honoring our Veterans

    I found this today on my Facebook feed- in light of Veterans Day coming up and how all try to honor those who serve, I thought it would be appropriate to share this with the membership. Joe is a big part of our HISTORY and so are YOU. Each of us should try and take the opportunity to do what the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office has done. They have honored a Veteran (and yes I will ALWAYS capitalize the word Veteran) - a Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST) who is also a mentor.
    This Veterans Day, thank a Vet and honor them for their service - publicize who they are. I will honor John Adams - a veteran and a member of MY staff for who he is and what he does (but he does NOT want his picture taken!). They served then and they are serving NOW.
    So thank you Atlantic Chapter Veterans (and members,) what I have done is just a little thing, and you all deserve so much more!! (And Dave and Rich and Tom and Larry - thank you too! I apologize if I forgot anyone)
    With Respect

    WE ARE THE BCSO - Barnstable County Sheriffโ€™s Office

    BCSO Communications Operator Joe McNeil is the most influential man you may never see. A retired Harwich fire captain, his groundbreaking work was done behind the fire trucks as a legendary telecommunicator.
    McNeil served as a USAF Air Policeman from 1963 to 1967. He was stationed at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam protecting the 7th Air Force command staff. His unit repelled a Viet Cong attack on the base in December 1966.
    In 1972, he came to Cape Cod to be a Harwich firefighter. By 1988, Captain McNeil convinced his fire chief to hire civilians to be dispatchers. โ€œI didnโ€™t think it made sense to pay firefighters top dollar to answer the phones,โ€ he said. The concept soon spread throughout the county.
    In the late 1980s, the Barnstable County Sheriffโ€™s Office hired him to run the County Police Radio System, a.k.a. โ€œThe Shackโ€ in Barnstable Village. He transformed the shack to become the regional mutual aid center for the fire departments here on the Cape by instituting computer-aided responses to mutual aid requests. During his tenure, the concept of a regional 911 center was conceived. Today, the BCSO answers 911 for 7 communities and Joint Base Cape Cod. We dispatch for 10 fire departments along with providing the communications interface to the area hospitals for first responders.
    But thatโ€™s not all, folks. McNeil helped develop a system that allowed U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crews, carrying paramedics, to communicate with hospital-based physicians, thereby allowing them to perform life-saving procedures while far from shore.
    He established the communications system for the paramedic-to-hospital communications in Plymouth County as well.
    McNeil was elected to the Board of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), becoming their President in 1998. The role brought him to Washington D.C. where he met with top FCC officials several times a year.
    In 2000, McNeil retired for a while. He and his wife, Carol, bought a 36-foot mobile home and traveled through all of the lower 48 states. Carol died in 2020 after suffering with multiple sclerosis for almost 40 years.
    In total, McNeil has worked for our communications department under four different sheriffs and is now a part-time CMED operator in the radio room.
    Thank you for your service, Joe!