FACTS REGARDING PLANS TO REPLACE EMS STATION 1:
In 2017 Emergency Services Director William Kehler submitted a proposed plan to replace EMS Station 1, which is located along South Garden Street in Marion. The station was built in 1978, shortly after McDowell EMS was formed. Today, multiple divisions work out of this station including EMS, Emergency Management, 911 Addressing, and the Community Care Paramedic Program. Currently, McDowell EMS has three stations, located in Marion, Nebo and Old Fort.
The four-station plan calls for constructing two stations, one on the south end of Marion and the other on the north end around the Hankins Rd. corridor. By constructing EMS stations on the outskirts of Marion, the agency will be improving response times to emergencies that occur in Dysartsville, Glenwood, Sugar Hill, Nix Creek, Pleasant Gardens, Hankins, Woodlawn and North Cove, while maintaining a response time of less than five minutes into the downtown area. An internal study in 2017 found that 88% of the calls serviced by EMS Station 1 would have a decreased response time under the four-station plan. On average it takes an EMS ambulance five minutes to reach the main intersections on the 221 Bypass, coming from the South Garden Street location. Numerous factors contribute to this delay including red lights, pedestrian crossings, and traffic congestion. 88% of the calls ran by Station 1 are outside the downtown area.
Through the years EMS Station 1 has been modified multiple times to provide adequate space for each division. Anyone who has visited EMS Station 1 can attest to the need for a new facility. Our employees work 24-hour shifts, meaning they live in the station for an entire day. The living quarters at EMS Station 1 are in desperate need of expansion to accommodate the number of employees who work each shift. The EMS truck bays were initially designed to accommodate station-wagon style ambulances, not the modern box-style ambulances that are built today. In several of our truck bays, the ambulance doors cannot be completely opened without striking the wall or another ambulance. Spare ambulances are kept off-site or in the public parking lot due to inadequate space within the truck bays. Ambulances carry numerous medical supplies including IV solutions, medications, and invasive medical equipment, all of which must be secured and maintained at adequate temperatures.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: By constructing two new stations, will the agency have to hire more employees?
A: The four-station plan does not require the hiring of additional personnel. Two ambulances currently operate out of EMS Station 1. Once constructed, one ambulance will be assigned to the north station with the other ambulance assigned to the south station. Any consideration to add additional personnel in the future would be triggered by an increase in call volume.
Q: What is the cost to construct these stations?
A: Once building and site plans are constructed by an architect, an initial estimate of the total project cost will be provided.
Q: What is the impact of decreasing response times?
A: Each day our team of paramedics and first responders work tirelessly to care for and transport critical patients to the most appropriate facility. Minutes count when responding to emergencies including cardiac arrest, choking, heart attacks, trauma, stroke, and other critical events. Positive outcomes are directly linked to a proper response time. For a heart attack patient, this can mean the blocked coronary vessel is cleared five minutes quicker, lessening the chance of long-term heart damage. This is only one of many examples.
Q: Have building sites been selected?
A: McDowell County currently owns property along Barnes Rd. located off US 221 South. The site has been identified as the best location for the south station. We continue to assess different locations for the north station.
A Culture of Safety Change:
MCDEMS Employees Approaching 8 Years Without Lost Time Incident
McDowell County EMS employees have worked nearly 8 years without a lost time incident. The culture of safety change began in 2010 with the agency changing over 23 different operational procedures and implementing new training and physical fitness requirements for employees. The agency's safety record has gained state and national attention and is believed to be one of the longest-running safety records for any EMS agency.
McDowell County Emergency Medical Service began its operation on July 1, 1977. EMS began its operation with a total of 16 employees with 5 employees working each shift. In the early days of the organization, the crew quarters were located in the County Administration Building. In 1978 EMS moved into a new station located on South Garden Street which still serves as the main station for EMS. In 1989 a second station was added in the Old Fort community. This station was located within the Rocket Building at Old Fort. In 2002 McDowell County Board of Commissioners approved the construction of a new Old Fort EMS Station on US 70 West in Old Fort. In October of 2010, EMS Station 3 was built through a joint project with the Nebo Volunteer Fire Department.
Today McDowell County EMS paramedics remain on the cutting edge of Emergency Medicine with access to state of the art medical equipment, medical protocols that meet national standards in emergency medicine, and training programs that provide excellent opportunities for professional development. McDowell EMS is committed to being an active player within the community promoting injury prevention programs and public awareness on a variety of health-related topics. In July of 2013, McDowell EMS implemented the first Community Care Paramedic Program in Western North Carolina.
Today… just as it did 41 years ago McDowell County EMS and its 63 professional employees take great pride in providing Emergency Medical Care to the citizens of McDowell County. We look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of this county and improving the level of service we provide.
McDowell County Emergency Medical Services is responsible for providing emergency medical care to all citizens and visitors of McDowell County. McDowell County EMS covers 437 square miles with elevation ranges from 900ft to 4700 ft. Over 68,000 acres of land within McDowell County is National Forest. Currently, our agency operates out of three stations. Our main station is located at 41 South Garden Street in Marion. Station 2 is located on US 70 West in Old Fort. Station 3 is located at 199 NC 126 in the Nebo community. McDowell EMS operates four ambulances and one quick response vehicle 24 hours a day. Within the system, six quick response vehicles are operated by the Director, Deputy Directors, EMS Captain and Community Care Paramedics. The McDowell County Rescue Squad serves as the backup provider for McDowell County EMS.
Deputy Director of EMS
EMS Billing Office:
60 East Court St.
Marion, NC 28752
41 South Garden St.
Marion, NC 28752
2018 Paramedic of the Year
Lieutenant Mitchell Ledford
2018 - MCDEMS - Awards
Corey S. Pittman Award
Sgt. Sam Robinson
McDowell County EMS