3-way Deal Means New Life for Rescue Squad HQ
For nearly two decades, the volunteer Pinehurst Rescue Squad has served the village's emergency needs.
But the inability to recruit new volunteers and provide adequate service is forcing the rescue squad to close its doors on Dec. 31.
But thanks to some creative thinking and cooperation between the Rescue Squad, Pinehurst Inc. (Pinehurst Resort) and Moore County, a highly trained rescue squad will remain in Pinehurst for years to come.
In late October, the three sides completed a land swap that will mean a Moore County EMS unit is the only rescue squad situated in Pinehurst to serve the village and the surrounding area.
The EMS squad is a group of full-time paramedics who will work out of the former Pinehurst Rescue Squad headquarters on McCaskill Road, just west of Rattlesnake Trail.
The swap entailed the Pinehurst Rescue Squad signing over its two lots on McCaskill Road to Pinehurst Inc., which in turn traded those two lots to Moore County for two 10,000-square-foot pieces of land located adjacent to the No. 3 golf course.
No money was exchanged in the deal.
Representatives from all sides are calling the move a "win" for everyone involved.
Gordon White, president of the Pinehurst Rescue Squad, is satisfied because it should keep a presence of paramedics in the village.
"We wanted them to stay here," White said.
The county EMS squad has been operating out of the rescue squad building for the past four years while renting the space from the Pinehurst Rescue Squad.
Assistant County Manager Ken Larking said making the swap was important for the county in terms of being able to provide services to the area.
"Having that property for our EMS crews is important because we want to keep providing services for that area," he said.
Earlier this year, the county approved an additional ambulance crew for the southern part of the county to improve services and response times.
The county owning the property would likely lessen the likelihood that EMS services would be relocated to an area outside the village, White said.
Larking said he knew of no plan to relocate the EMS services to another location.
The properties received by Pinehurst Inc. are both abandoned well sites. One of the properties will be utilized for improvements for the 2014 U.S. Opens.
"One (property) will be a practice tee for the U.S. Open as part of an expanded practice area," said Kerry Andrews, a spokesperson for Pinehurst Resort.
Originally, the Pinehurst Rescue Squad, chartered by the state on Jan. 1, 1975, was given its two lots by way of deeds of gift from Club Corps of America, prior owner of Pinehurst Resort. Those deeds stipulated that if the rescue squad wanted to get rid of the properties, Pinehurst Inc. would have first right of refusal.
White said the original idea was to sell the rescue squad property to the county for a nominal fee, but the resort offered a better solution.
"They came back to us and said, 'This is what we'd like to do.' We said, 'Wonderful,' and the land swap was born," White said. "We were all very happy with the way it turned out. It's a three-way win situation."
At one time, Moore County had 10 volunteer rescue squads, but changing times have forced nearly all of them to close. With the closing of the Pinehurst Rescue Squad, Robbins will be the only town with a volunteer rescue squad in Moore County.
"In the old days, companies used to be proud of the guys on the rescue squad and would let them out of work for 45 minutes or so to let them rise to the occasion when an emergency call goes out," White said.
Wade Garner said it will be a sad day when the Pinehurst Rescue Squad closes. Garner has served as the squad's captain for 34 years and helped found the organization.
"We just don't have enough people to answer calls," Garner said. "We've tried for years to recruit new members, but we can't find them.
"It's heartbreaking because you don't see anybody who wants to get involved in it anymore."
Garner said in its heyday in the 1980s, the rescue squad had 24 to 26 active members. Now, there are eight to 10.
The Pinehurst Fire Department took over some of the heavy duty work of the Pinehurst Rescue Squad last yeard when the squad handed over to the department its jaws of life, one rescue boat and large vehicle-lifting inflatable air bags used to raise wrecked vehicles that may pin people down.
The Fire Department also now administers CPR, something previously left to EMS or rescue squads.
Garner thanked all those people who have contributed to the Pinehurst Rescue squad. He said he will miss helping the people the most.
"I really hate to see it go, " Garner said. "But things change. That is the way life is."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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