Paramedics approved for Sampson | Independent Sampson

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The Sampson County 911 & Emergency Services Center will be 36,000 square feet in size and will house the county’s 911 telecommunications, emergency medical services, emergency management operations, fire and addressing services, as well as the emergency operations center.

Courtesy Photo | Monteith Construction

In a brief meeting Monday night, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners authorized the hiring of six paramedics, with the understanding that an additional new vehicle will also be required from July 2022 for the new team. The demand was not met during budget negotiations in June, despite appeals from local emergency officials, but finally received board approval four months later.

One of the priorities assigned to the new director of emergency services, Richard Sauer, when he was hired earlier this year, was to review the existing operations of the emergency services and create a proposed plan to improve those services.

Following his assessment, Sauer’s first request was to echo the need for additional paramedics.

He specifically requested the addition of six paramedics at an annual cost of $ 448,000 by January 2022. The new unit will be located in Garland. In addition, the vehicle would be added to this squad; and the county would contract with at least one, maybe two, part-time fire inspectors. This cost will be paid by the inspection fee.

At its Monday night meeting, the board unanimously approved the hiring of paramedics, as well as additional items.

Currently, six full-time paramedic-level Advanced Life Assistance (ALS) ambulances operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Six volunteer EMS agencies and four nursing units support the career system, but Sauer said “the current EMS system is fragile.”

He cited increased call volume and response times, as well as the need for more transportation to out-of-county hospitals, as well as longer wait times in hospital emergency rooms and the need for more staff. At the same time, volunteering is on the decline, Sauer noted.

The message was one that local officials have heard before – not so long ago.

Earlier this year, the request for six paramedics was made as part of Sampson County’s proposed 2021-2022 budget. This was not achieved, emergency officials expressed the imminent need for additional staff.

Taylors Bridge Fire Chief Alan Williams addressed the issue at the regular Sampson County Commissioners Council meeting in June 2021.

“One of the most urgent needs is the addition of six more paramedics, which will allow us to staff an additional ambulance 24 hours a day,” said Erick Herring, Sampson County EMS chief of operations, in its official budget request earlier this year. “This will take us from six ambulances to seven.”

On the recommendation of County Manager Ed Causey, meet on the cutting room floor. The county manager spoke of the need to further assess the demand.

“We will hold the request for paramedics on hold and conduct a full review over the next year,” Causey said in his May 2021 budget message. “We want to review schedules, headquarters locations, call data, better use of volunteers, etc. and respond to our potential needs in the most proactive and responsible manner possible. We will then recommend additional positions as needed.

Addressing the board in June, Williams said the problem was approaching a dire status.

“Right now there are only six advanced resuscitation units in this county – only six. From (NC) Highway 24 North, there are five – two in Clinton, three at the north end of the county; (from NC) 24 south, there’s only one, ”Williams said.

When this unit goes out on a call, the available number, specifically for the south end, drops to zero. Williams called the $ 230,000 for “six paramedics who can save lives a small price to pay for what needs to be done.”

“It won’t solve the EMS problem in the county, but it’s a start,” Williams said.

Williams said someone was going to be hurt if there wasn’t more staff to help.

“I saw it firsthand,” said Williams. “We’re going to hurt someone in this county. We see him there every day. I strongly urge you to reconsider, and please add these six paramedics. It will only have one truck, but it’s one we don’t have. Because when that truck is gone, there is nothing left. I don’t have anyone to call for help. Our citizens deserve and expect to have an ambulance readily available when needed. “

On a particular day at the end of January 2021, all EMS units in Sampson County were busy with calls and there were three calls waiting with no one available to answer.

“It takes a heavy toll on our staff as it results in less downtime to catch up on reports and other tasks. The pandemic has also taken its toll on our volunteers, ”Herring noted.

EMS installation is progressing

At the end of last week, Monteith Construction released an update on the construction of the Sampson County 911 & Emergency Services Center project, which is underway.

“The installation of the structural steel began last week with the joists successfully placed in the EMS racks. The steel installation will be completed in the main building over the next few weeks as the installation of the exterior air barrier begins, as well as the thin steel framing, ”noted the construction company.

The roughly $ 18 million project began in April, next to the Sampson County Detention Center on Fontana Street.

More than half of the funding for the project will come from grants, including a $ 5.5 million PSAP disaster recovery grant, $ 1 million from Golden LEAF and $ 3.5 million from a disaster recovery grant. from the NC Office of State Budget and Management.

The facility will be 36,000 square feet in size and will house the county’s 911 telecommunications, emergency medical services, emergency management operations, fire and addressing services, as well as the operations center. emergency.

The public safety facility was designed by ADW Architects of Charlotte, with engineering from the companies Stewart, Benesch and Optima. Consulting and planning services for the design and migration of 911 telecommunications were provided by Mission Critical Partners.

At the time of the inauguration, representatives from Monteith Construction said they planned to complete the project in 14 months, with a ribbon cutting slated for summer 2022.


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