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    McDowell County first responders save woman’s life after suicide attempt, both win awards

    By Julia White,


    WELCH, WV (WVNS)– A McDowell County deputy and a 911 dispatcher received an award on Monday, April 8, 2024 for saving someone’s life.

    The McDowell County Sheriff awarded medals to Chief Deputy Anthony Epperson and dispatcher Ladawna Mullins after they saved a woman’s life in the line of duty.

    Chief deputy Epperson was called on scene to a woman holding a gun, attempting to take her own life. Epperson said his training in crisis intervention with Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center is what helped him address the situation and talk the woman down effectively.

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    “She didn’t want anyone to interfere or intervene in that situation, and with CIT and my training that I received, I was able to reach her and get on page with her to the point to where she finally decided to relinquish that firearm and change her mindset on ending her life,” said Epperson.

    Epperson added the moment had a huge impact on his life and the family involved.

    Community members gathered to recognize the pair’s achievement and enjoy a nice lunch. The award ceremony was at the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office at 6:30 p.m.

    Candace Nelson, Project Director with Southern Highlands, said they are taking big strides in bringing CIT training to our local counties. CIT training will teach first responders and local law enforcement how to better respond to someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

    It will instruct them on techniques such as being more empathetic, showing respect, and helping someone in a crisis through their struggle with dignity.

    “To date, we’ve trained 119 first responders in crisis intervention training, and that includes police, fire, EMS, 911 dispatchers and other community partners,” said Nelson.

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    Southern Highlands has 12 local instructors from Mercer, McDowell, and Wyoming counties who help train in CIT.

    Nelson said the next training session is coming up in June.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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