Cronin named Emergency Services Director; Brown retires with 34 years of experience

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LURAY, March 11 — Page County’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) saw a new leader take its helm this month, following the retirement of Director of Emergency Services Woody Brown on March 1.

Former Page County Fire-EMS Coordinator Matt Cronin is stepping into the Director position with more than a decade of experience in volunteer and career positions.

“He has so much experience and a background on the job that’s allowed him to form connections and build networking,” said Brown of Cronin’s selection as Director. “His overall experience and his easy-to-get-along-with demeanor make him a good fit for the County and this stage that the County is in.”

In 2009 Cronin began serving as a volunteer paramedic with the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad — a position he says he was inspired to pursue due to “a desire to help people in my local community.” He additionally served four years as chief of the Harrisonburg organization and is a life member.

After earning a bachelor’s in public policy administration from James Madison University in 2015, Cronin spent about three years working as a paid firefighter and medic for the County of Orange EMS. The Orange County native then spent about three years working for the Regional Healthcare Coordination Center as part of the Virginia Healthcare Emergency Management Program.

Cronin joined Page County as Fire-EMS Coordinator in May 2021, managing the day-to-day operations of the Department, such as shift schedules and payroll and fielding training requests and responding to emergency events.

As Director of Emergency Services Cronin is tasked with the overall management of the Page County department, setting strategic directions and developing standard operation guidelines. He as Director is additionally designated as the Emergency Management Coordinator for Page County — a position charged with updating emergency plans in case of a disaster and overseeing disaster response efforts.

The Rockingham County resident said he was especially drawn to Page County’s Fire and EMS Department.

“What drew me to this department specifically is that we’re rural and we’re small, and with that comes the ability to take care of patients for a longer period of time while in the back of an ambulance, and so I was looking forward to updating and elevating Page County’s Fire and EMS protocols and capabilities,” said Cronin. “And then, it’s a very beautiful area and all of the people are very friendly.”

Through his new Director position Cronin will additionally coordinate with Page County’s ECC Director. Danielle Rhinehart, who formerly served as ECC Supervisor, officially began as Director of the County’s Emergency Communications Center on March 1. The new position’s responsibilities were formerly overseen by Brown during his tenure as Emergency Services Director.

With 34 years in volunteer and career emergency services positions, Brown officially retired from Page County on March 1.

Brown began his career in Rockingham County, where he spent 16 years with fire and rescue agencies and served as a captain and station commander. He spent six years working for the Virginia Department of Emergency Services, overseeing 17 localities — including Page County — as a Regional Hazardous Materials Officer.

In 2017, Brown joined Page County’s Fire and EMS Department as Emergency Services Coordinator, before being tapped as the Department’s Director in 2019.

Brown reflected fondly on his time in Page County, touting the area for its volunteer base and dedicated staff.

“Page County should be proud of their volunteers,” said Brown. “They have maintained a volunteer fire and EMS force or personnel for so long, and that’s uncommon now in the state and the nation.

“In Page County right now, all of the fire departments are 100-percent volunteer,” he continued. “In other jurisdictions it is a combination of career and volunteer firefighters, so that is something the volunteers should be proud of and Page County should be proud of.

“From the volunteers to the career staff, county administration and the citizens in the county, there’s a lot to be proud of in Page County,” Brown concluded. “I have enjoyed working with everyone.”

Brown also endorsed Page County’s new Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Director. Rhinehart, 28, joined Page County as a dispatcher in 2014, a role she held for about three years before being tapped as ECC Supervisor in November 2017.

“Danielle started as a dispatcher, but worked her way into new roles, taking on new responsibilities,” Brown said. “As a supervisor she took on a lot of other roles — from scheduling to VCIN [the Virginia Criminal Information Network]. Everyone respects her, and that’s why the decision was made to promote her to Director of ECC.”

After graduating from Page County High School in 2011, Rhinehart earned her EMT certification and spent four years as a volunteer for the Shenandoah and Luray rescue squads — positions she says she was inspired to pursue while growing up in Page County and seeing family members who held fire and EMS roles.

The Stanley resident currently serves as an auxiliary volunteer for the Stanley Fire Department.

“After entering the EMS field straight out of high school, it’s always been something I’ve remained interested in,” Rhinehart said of her time as a volunteer and at the Emergency Communications Center. “Once I became a dispatcher and moved into manager positions, I realized that I could keep helping the public but also help the dispatchers in the Center.

“I enjoy helping others become better dispatchers, and then helping ECC in general.”

As ECC Director, Rhinehart is charged with overseeing dispatch, personnel and equipment.

For more information about Page County’s Fire and EMS Department,

check out their WEBSITE or visit their Facebook page.

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