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Dispatch center director's death shocks friends

"McClymont memorialKathy McClymont's friends have organized a memorial service for her at 2 p.m. Saturday at the North Whidbey Middle School, 815 NE 4th Ave. A reception will follow at the Oak Harbor Fire Department, 855 E. Whidbey Ave. Remembrances can be made to the McClymont Children's College Fund through InterWest Bank in Coupeville.She was a dynamo. She worked on overdrive. She was a woman of integrity and professionalism who talked as fast as she could think.Kathy McClymont, Island County Emergency Services Communication Center director, is remembered as a woman of incredible energy by colleagues who were shocked by her sudden, unexpected death March 25.McClymont, a 44-year-old Coupeville resident, was home with her family mid-day Saturday when she collapsed. She was rushed to Whidbey General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 5:30 a.m. Sunday.Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said McClymont died from natural causes. He said she likely died from one or more illnesses that she was unaware she had. The exact cause of her death won't be known for a few days, Bishop said.I-COM dispatchers knew before anyone else that their boss' life was in jeopardy when they received a 911 call from her house. Dispatchers, like they normally do, sent paramedics to McClymont's Coupeville home as fast as possible.McClymont is survived by husband, Jim McClymont, and two teenage daughters, Katie and Lindy. McClymont's biggest accomplishment of her professional life was developing the island-wide 911 or ICOM center. When she took the job as the 911 director in 1994, there were two separate emergency dispatch centers on the island - one run by Oak Harbor police, the other by Island County Sheriff's Department.She was literally handed a little black box of documents and told to implement them, said Kari Roll, McClymont's assistant. She literally built this place from the ground up.McClymont created a single dispatch center to communicate with all Whidbey Island police and firefighting agencies and emergency medical services paramedics. The center housed the latest equipment and software. Many streets names throughout the city and county had to be changed to make it easier for emergency services to respond in a timely fashion. After thousands of hours of tireless research and grant writing, the new 911 center adjacent to the Oak Harbor Police Department on Southeast Barrington Drive at Ireland Street, opened on March 31, 1997.But McClymont didn't get a chance to rest. Her next monumental task was to oversee the conversion from the old-fashioned 911 system to enhanced 911 - a system that identifies a caller's address immediately when they dial 911. Setting up the system meant checking every single address on the island. The system went on-line Jan. 1, 1999.She was instrumental in the whole process, said Police Chief Tony Barge, former ICOM board chairman. Quite literally, Kathy gets the kudos for everything that was accomplished.Barge said he and others with the police department always teased McClymont for her energy and ability to talk tirelessly.It was difficult to listen fast enough to her, let alone get a word in edgewise, he said.Tom Shaughnessy, 911 board chairman, said McClymont's death was very emotional for everyone who knew her.Roll said a giant reminder of the director still sits in the ICOM building. McClymont bought a larger-than-life suit of armor for the center years ago. The metal statue, dubbed Sir Knight, seems to symbolize what McClymont wanted the center to be all about.It was a symbol of protection and strength, Roll said. It fit with her philosophy of 911.You can reach staff reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611. "

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