Paramedics go live on the south sidePublished 8:00pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014
CHOCOWINITY — Beaufort County residents on the south side of the Pamlico have a new emergency workforce: paramedics.
As of Tuesday, Chocowinity EMS became the first fulltime paramedic-level squad in county, an event many in the region are celebrating. Town officials and the local EMS board were in attendance at a Tuesday reception at the firehouse, officially launching the program.
“It means we can give quicker service, more procedures and provide more medications to the people here,” said Jay McRoy, chair of the Chocowinity EMS board. “Some of the places — we’re a considerable distance from the hospital and we can now probably save some people that we wouldn’t have been able to save in the past.”
Chocowinity paramedics will be operating on the south side of the river from the Pitt County line to Blounts Creek. For residents east of the cutoff point, the squad will be performing emergency intercepts as needed — for example, if a critical patient in Aurora is being transported to Vidant-Beaufort Hospital by the Aurora volunteer EMS squad, Chocowinity paramedics can drive to meet them, and a paramedic can get aboard the Aurora vehicle to assist in the transport.
Chocowinity EMS’ Capt. Dana Hunnewell has been instrumental in pushing the program forward in Beaufort County. He said Chocowinity EMS responded to 1,400 calls last year. This year, as paramedics, they’ll be able to provide more, and better, assessment to the patient, as well as expanded treatment.
New equipment like the portable Lifepak cardiac monitor/defibrillator now allows Chocowinity paramedics to offer in the field some of the lifesaving measures found in the emergency room.
“It allows us to do so much more that what we were able to do before,” Hunnewell said.
With three paramedics already on staff — including Hunnewell — and nine recent hires, that brings the squad to twelve paramedics with two trucks available for emergency response. A third truck is in the works, all of which serve residents who have gone without quick access to medical care.
“Basically, we’re helping all the Beaufort County people on the south side of the river,” McRoy said.