S.P. Hopes to Get Ambulance Unit
Southern Pines may finally be getting an emergency medical service (EMS) ambulance unit stationed in town.
Ambulance units with paramedics stationed at the county airport and Aberdeen now serve Southern Pines.
Studies conducted by the county, along with a strategic plan completed by a consultant, to improve countywide emergency medical services, recommend stationing a new ambulance unit within Southern Pines because of its population and density. That would improve response times. The unit would probably serve Pinehurst as well.
The county levies a special advanced life support property tax to fund the ambulance service. The ambulances are staffed by trained paramedics.
Assistant Town Manager Ricky Baker said recently the town could get one of two new ambulances the county has this year as early as March. It will likely be stationed at fire station on West Pennsylvania Avenue for peak call hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners must first approve the recommendations. The commissioners are to receive a report at a February meeting from Scot Brooks, the county director of emergency medical services, and other officials.
The study recommends placing the other new ambulance in the Vass area.
Brooks confirmed last week that he and Baker have discussed the possibility of locating the ambulance unit at the town fire station, though the recommendations from consultants were not specific about a location except that it should be in the Southern Pines "area."
The ambulance unit based at the airport serves Whispering Pines and the fast-growing area northwest of Southern Pines. That is on the fringe of much of the town's population center.
The Southern Pines Fire Department is a first responder on emergency calls. Firefighters are trained and equipped to "keep someone alive" with basic first-aid methods, such as applying pressure to control bleeding, providing a direct air-feed type of resuscitation, taking vital signs and generally stabilizing the patient until an ambulance arrives, Baker said.
Brooks said ambulances are supposed to be dispatched at the same time as other first responders by the county 911 center.
"The critical time is the first five minutes," Brooks said.
Paramedics on the county ambulances are trained to keep someone seriously injured or ill alive with invasive procedures, such as IVs, a type of automated defibrillator, an EKG machine and at least 60 different medications, Brooks said.
Brooks said no one has died or suffered a permanent disability because of the time it has taken for an ambulance to arrive on a call in the Southern Pines area.
Brooks said lease arrangements with Southern Pines and other entities providing significant amounts of space for EMS units around the county are now the norm or are being worked out.
Southern Pines offered the county some space in the fire station on West Pennsylvania Avenue, when it was being built, for $90,000. An agreement was never reached.
A county ambulance unit had previously been stationed at the old town fire station off Morganton Road.
Southern Pines currently has more than 11,000 residents spread from the Aberdeen city limits on the southeast, to the Pinehurst corporate limits on U.S. 15-501 near Pinecrest Plaza and to the northeast all the way to McCaskill Road near N.C. 22.
Baker told the Southern Pines Town Council at a recent work session the town has been responding to medical assistance calls even when the "primary ambulance was not available, and the call involved some type of rescue or when requested by paramedics."
In catastrophic cases, Southern Pines is authorized to transport patients in a sport utility vehicle to the hospital if a fully equipped ambulance isn't available in time, Baker said.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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