Emerald Isle, N.C., EMS Gets New Digs


Jannette Pippin | | Friday, October 12, 2007

Oct. 11--EMERALD ISLE -- In her nearly 28 years with Emerald Isle EMS Mary Metzler has seen the squad mark a number of milestones.

Reaching paramedic level of service was a big one, and on Wednesday morning she dug into the ground with a gold-colored shovel to celebrate the latest: a new EMS station.

The ground-breaking ceremony marked the start of construction for the new facility that will be at Live Oak Street and N.C. 58, adjacent to Fire Station 1. Construction will begin in the next few weeks and the estimated completion date for the project is July 31.

For a squad that considers itself family, the station will be the new home they ve never had.

We re just really tickled to have a place that fits our need, said Metzler, chief of the nonprofit volunteer entity that provides emergency medical services to the town.

Emerald Isle EMS operates out of a converted beach house that has become cramped and outdated.

When the new station opens, one of the most noticeable changes will be its three vehicle bays, giving the squad the space it has needed to house its two ambulances and paramedic vehicle.

Now we can only fit one vehicle, and the other two are outside, Metzler said.

In a beach town where salt water and the elements can take a toll on equipment, having all the vehicles and equipment under one roof helps with maintenance, she said.

The total area of the new building will be 4,878 square feet, with 2,055 square feet for the vehicle bays and the remainder including office space, living quarters and bunk space, training room and restrooms.

Emerald Isle EMS member Carl Hogan, who serves on the Joint EMS Committee that consists of EMS members and town representatives, said the project is an example of the strong cooperation that exists between the town and the private entity.

The reason this worked is both the (town) commissioners and the EMS focused on the mission of providing the best possible emergency medical services to the citizens of Emerald Isle, he said.

The new EMS station is being built on town-owned property, and the construction cost of $774,444 is being covered through a cooperative venture of the two entities.

Emerald Isle EMS Inc. is contributing $206,000 of reserve funds, and the town has $150,000 earmarked in its current budget for the project.

The balance of the funds will be financed, and proceeds from the sale of the existing EMS station on Cedar Street will be used to retire the debt.

The town will own the new station but has entered into a long-term lease agreement with Emerald Isle EMS Inc.

The station was designed by EDA-Morehead, a Morehead City architectural and engineering firm. The construction contract was awarded to Bluewater Builders of Emerald Isle.

With new visibility on the main highway along Bogue Banks and a new facility from which to train and work, the EMS squad also hopes to expand its family with more volunteers.

We ll be more visible to people so maybe they ll stop by, Metzler said.

Contact staff writer Jannette Pippin at jpippin@freedomenc.com or 252-808-2275.

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