National publication re-highlights bygone years of Allegany County dispatching

Melba (Mel) Mickle
Just before her retirement in 1989.
Photo from Allegany County Historical Society

“Melba “Mel” Mickle was like an intrepid postal carrier except instead of delivering mail, she lent her voice for 19 years to Allegany County, New York (USA), public services.”

The Allegany County Board of Legislators took a few minutes Wednesday to recognize the reprint of a story about a now-deceased former county dispatcher, Melba Mickle, which appeared this month in the national Journal of Emergency Dispatch.

Legislator James Rumfelt of Andover, who also serves as the village police chief, brought the story to light at the end of yesterday’s board meeting, reflecting that he had interacted regularly with Mickle in his public safety capacity.

Legislator Dwight (Mike) Healy also reflected on his association with the dispatcher during his prior law enforcement career.

The article, reprinted from August 2020, added weight to this week’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week observance.

The article reports that “Mickle was the sole fire/ambulance radio operator for the county. With a single tower site, Mickle received the seven-digit fire/ambulance and Andover Police Department calls and dispatched mutual fire aid for the entire county, excluding Wellsville, which had its own rescue operator.”

It noted that “Mickle took over dispatch services immediately after her husband, George, died in 1969. Affectionately known as the voice at the base station (KED-620), Mickle kept the line open 24/7, day and night, except for Sunday church services during which volunteer firefighters substituted.

“According to Allegany local history, Mickle sometimes went ‘days and nights without sleep to make sure every piece of fire equipment and fire personnel were where they were supposed to be and were safely back at home when the fire was over.’

“Mickle retired in 1988 when the radio was moved back to the Allegany County courthouse in Belmont, and 911 services were consolidated. She died nine years later on Nov. 12, 1997.”

The county’s 911 Center, located at the Sheriff’s Department at Belmont, currently has a full staff of around-the-clock dispatchers.

The full article is available at

Board Chairman W. Brooke Harris yesterday also proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month and Fair Housing Month in Allegany County, along with April 23-29 as Library Week.