Daily Press (Sunday)

Outer Banks to get 3 new EMS stations

Buildings are first phase in modernizin­g Dare County facilities

- By Corinne Saunders

Dare County began its Emergency Medical Services facilities modernizat­ion project last March, and three new EMS stations are expected to be open by mid-summer.

EMS Station 4 in Southern Shores is slated to open by early March. EMS Station 7, also called Dare Medflight Hangar, in Manteo is expected to be complete in late April or early May. Dare County EMS Station 1, which will double as Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Station 14, should open by early July, according to Dorothy Hester, county spokespers­on.

The three represent Phase 1 of the county’s project. They’ll replace the three older facilities at a cost of roughly $42.9 million, according to the county website.

Phase 2, set to start next month, will renovate EMS Station 8 in Manns Harbor and replace the Kitty Hawk EMS station, at an estimated cost of $19.4 million.

Phase 3 is slated for February 2025 and will renovate EMS station 5 in Nags Head at a cost of about $10 million.

Phase 4 will involve renovation­s of the EMS stations in Manteo, Frisco and Rodanthe, but has no timeline or cost estimate yet, according to the county website.

“The new stations will provide for much-improved facilities for personnel, equipment and vehicles,” EMS Director Jennie Collins said in an email.

“All new stations will have improved health and safety measures to help remove carcinogen­ic diesel and gas engine fumes from the vehicle bays and specific decontamin­ation areas for equipment and personnel.”

The stations will include spaces large enough for group training classes, better computer spaces, technologi­cal and dispatch improvemen­ts, larger kitchens and improved sleeping and bathroom facilities for men and women.

Stations currently have two bunkroom areas that may differ in size, and Collins said at times this limits staffing or scheduling trainees based upon the number scheduled for a shift and the site’s number of beds in each bunkroom.

“All new stations will have individual-sized sleeping quarters that are not gender-specific, alleviatin­g the need to match crew genders to bed availabili­ty,” she said.

Once completed, all EMS units will be able to park inside — which is helpful in all situations of extreme weather, and maintains temperatur­e control of supplies and medication­s, Collins said.

EMS Station 4, in Southern Shores, will be roughly 8,700 square feet, according to Hester.

The EMS side of the station will total 6,323 square feet and house two staffed ambulances and one mechanical reserve ambulance, Hester said in an email. The Southern Shores Fire Department portion of the building will total 2,332 square feet.

EMS stations in Southern Shores and Manns Harbor have thus far required the use of shorter ambulances because of the height of vehicle bays in those stations, according to Collins.

Once the new station opens in Southern Shores and the Manns Harbor station is renovated, regular-sized ambulances will be able to access vehicle bays at any station in the county, which helps when a unit is sent “to cover another station’s territory when that station is busy on calls,” Collins said.

The station improvemen­ts also will allow staff to perform tasks in a climate-controlled atmosphere.

“When staff needed to perform their daily checks, the ambulances needed to be moved outside to enable all the vehicle doors to be open to access the equipment,” Collins said of the previous Southern Shores station.

The shorter ambulances will continue to be used until they’re replaced in the normal vehicle replacemen­t cycle” she said.

The hangar for the Dare County MedFlight helicopter — which transports patients to major out-ofcounty medical facilities — will be 14,320 square feet and is being constructe­d within a gated area of the Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, according to the county website.

The hangar will house one helicopter and one mechanical reserve ambulance, but is built with space for two helicopter­s, according to Hester.

EMS Station 1 will be the county’s largest EMS facility once completed, with the dual building totaling about 36,000 square feet, according

to the county website.

The EMS portion will total 18,614 square feet and host two or three staffed ambulances, two mechanical reserve ambulances, two quick response vehicles and special event trailers, according to Hester.

The Kill Devil Hills Fire Department portion of the station will be 17,200 square feet, Hester said.

EMS Station 1, in Kill Devil Hills, was prioritize­d as part of the project’s first phase because responders provide service from there “to one of the busiest and most populated areas of the Outer Banks,” according to the county website.

Dare County finalized its $1.95 million purchase of the property, formerly the restaurant Mako Mike’s, from Outer Banks restaurate­ur Mike Kelly in December 2021, according to county land transfer records.

Demolition of the restaurant building began in March, and a groundbrea­king ceremony took place last May for the new dual EMS

and fire facility, according to the county website.

EMS call volume

In 2023, Dare County EMS fielded calls about 9,963 incidents, representi­ng a 2% increase in call volume over 2022, according to Collins.

“We drove 271,650 miles by ambulances and flew 22,991 miles by MedFlight,” Collins said in an email.

February saw the lowest call volume, of 511, which averages about 18 calls per day, according to Collins. July saw the highest call volume, of 1,162, which averages about 37 calls per day.

“Almost two-thirds of our patients are 55 years or older, with males and females almost a 50⁄50 split,” Collins said.

The geographic distributi­on and the types of incidents were consistent with prior years, she said.

The top three incident types are medical complaints, which includes everything from general sickness to diabetes incidents to seizures; trauma complaints, which is “anything injury-related from falls, sprains, strains, motor vehicle accidents, industrial accidents, etc.;” and cardiac complaints, according to Collins.

About 47% of the call volume comes from the northern part of the county, from the Currituck County line and Duck through Kill Devil Hills, according to Collins. The Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills stations serve this area.

About 33% of the call volume comes from the middle of the county, which stretches from Nags Head to Oregon Inlet and west to the Tyrrell County line, she said. Three stations cover this area: Nags Head, Manteo and Manns Harbor.

About 20% of the call volume comes from the southern part of the county, which covers from south of Oregon Inlet to the Hatteras Ferry Terminal, Collins said. The Rodanthe and Buxton stations serve this area.

 ?? CORINNE SAUNDERS/STAFF ?? The new EMS Station 4 in Southern Shores is expected to open in early March.
CORINNE SAUNDERS/STAFF The new EMS Station 4 in Southern Shores is expected to open in early March.

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