As the local population goes, so go Sussex County paramedics — moving closer to the beach. Sussex County Emergency Medical Services (SCEMS) cut the ribbon this week on their Medic 105 base, which moved from Route 17 in Clarksville to just outside Ocean View.
“Our biggest challenge was the communities to the east were growing,” said Robert “Robbie” Murray Jr., SCEMS operations division manager. “We constantly found ourselves going to the east.”
SCEMS was established around 1991, with five stations, Murray said. The South Coastal station (Medic 105) joined those in Lincoln, Blades, Lewes and southern Georgetown. In 1992, when Medic 105 set up shop in Clarksville, the entire SCEMS got 7,000 calls for service in a year. Today, that number is 21,000.
“We were getting longer response times to our ever-growing population close to the beaches,” said Director Robert Stuart.
This is the third station built specifically for the SCEMS. There’s an extra bay, and more space for potentially larger vehicles in future. The new location was already County property.
It shares space with Sussex County’s South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facility — which, despite its proximity to Ocean View, has a Frankford address, on South Coastal Lane.
“You can imagine what the acreage we needed in this neighborhood would cost,” mused Todd Lawson, County administrator.
Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent at this week’s dedication ceremony thanked the taxpayers who ultimately pay for public safety.
Paramedics are career employees of Sussex County. Most fire companies provide medical transport, but if a 911 dispatcher determines that the emergency is serious enough, he or she will call SCEMS, too. Ambulance staff can provide basic life support, but paramedics will jump on the ambulance, too, if needed.
“This unit provides advanced life support for this whole area,” so partnerships between agencies are very important, Murray said.
The opening of the new facility closes a chapter in which Medic 105 was based in the front yard of land on Route 17 rented from Larry and Sue Kelly.
“These guys are always easy … a pleasure, the best,” said Larry Kelly. “They’re on the ball. When they gotta go, they go.”