CONWAY – A ribbon cutting celebration held here on Jan. 20 marked the relocation of Northampton County’s EMS Station #4 to a bigger building recently acquired by the county.
“Our goal is to give you the best facilities and equipment we possibly can,” said Northampton County Manager Charles Jackson at Wednesday’s event, addressing the EMS workers who will now benefit from the move.
The county commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of the facility, located at 309 N. Church Street in Conway, at their meeting on Dec. 7, 2020.
The building formerly housed the Conway/Severn Rescue Squad, a volunteer organization which has now become defunct. In 2019, the organization had only responded to approximately seven percent of emergency calls, and the lack of service caused them to have funding revoked from both Northampton County and the town of Conway.
The future of the facility was a topic of discussion by the commissioners and Conway town officials as far back as a joint meeting held in Nov. 2019. Mayor Tommy Barrett suggested that the building was too good to go to waste, and that it could potentially be used by Northampton’s emergency services instead.
More than $500,000 was still owed to USDA for the construction of the building, but through negotiations, the county was able to purchase the facility for only $175,000 in Dec. 2020. In the agreement with USDA, the title to the property was received free and clear of any liens.
The towns of Conway and Severn agreed to commit annual funding to the county EMS station, in the amounts of $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.
Now, the county EMS staff are in the process of moving from their previous facility in Milwaukee. They’re expected to begin operating out of the Conway facility by February 1.
County and town officials, EMS workers, and others attended the ribbon cutting event, all expressing gratitude for continual emergency services and excitement for the move.
“It’s a good day for Conway,” acknowledged Mayor Barrett.
“We all know this pandemic has been challenging,” said Sheriff Jack Smith. “Thank you all, and please be safe.”
Economic Development Director Franklin Williams said he’d seen firsthand how quickly EMS workers respond to provide aid, and he said he was glad the new facility was a part of the county’s vision.
“I know you’re all going to be efficient with the work you do saving lives and putting yourself at risk. It’s a wonderful job you do,” Williams stated.
“I live in Conway and I’m proud the county was able to purchase this station for the EMS workers,” said Tammie Piland, who serves as Northampton’s E911 Director. “I’m proud they have nicer facility, a bigger building, and more room.”
Emergency Medical Services Director Paul Nowell also referenced the size of the new building as one of its benefits, saying “[it’s] a safer place to work, more sanitary place to work in this day and time when we have to social distance.”
“It’s also going to improve emergency response in eastern Northampton County,” he added.
“Today is a blessed day for us in Northampton County,” said Commissioner Board Chair Charles Tyner. “We want you to enjoy this facility. We want you to treat it as if it’s home.”
Tyner emphasized the importance of different people working together to make this a reality, recognizing especially the assistance from the towns.
He also noted that the funding should help keep the facility in good shape and EMS will be able to continue to serve people in need.
“This is just the beginning. We’re going to continue to do all we can to make sure that our citizens receive the very best. We deserve the best,” he concluded.