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  • John Clayton, Laurens County Advertiser

Outdated EMS Medic 1 needs renovation

(Editor’s Note: The Laurens County Advertiser is taking a look at each of the 16 projects proposed to be funded by the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST). The 1-cent sales tax will be put to a referendum in the Nov. 3 General Election. The next proposed project, our eighth in the series, concerns a renovation to EMS-Medic 1 headquarters.)

The current EMS Medic 1 station was not intended when built to house one of Laurens County’s most important agencies.

Even after the former private business was turned into an EMS station in 1987, its shelf life was estimated at around 15 years.

Thirty-three years later, Laurens County EMS is still waiting for an upgraded EMS headquarters and has found Medic 1 to be insufficient to meet the needs of a bigger, more technically advanced EMS division.

“It’s vital that we do this for our crews’ safety,” said Laurens County EMS Director Matt Pennington. “We don’t have enough power in the building to run all we need to run. The heating and air conditioning is due to be replaced. There’s not enough room for everybody.”

The renovation project for Medic 1 as approved by the Capital Project Sales Tax Commission would cost $314,500. It calls for a remodeling of the entire facility, including the sleeping quarters and ambulance bay.

Pennington said both safety and efficiency would improve with the renovation.

Then the building was converted for EMS in 1987, it housed three people at a time – one supervisor and two crew members. That number is routinely eight – two full crews and a supervisor – now as EMS has necessarily grown over the years to serve the county. Five of those EMS personnel work 24-hour shifts.

The number of ambulances and their capabilities has also grown, but most ambulances remain parked outside when not in use.

The renovation would change that and allow access to electrical outlets so ambulances could remain “plugged in” so that medicines and equipment could be kept at a stable, recommended temperature.

Pennington said he would like to see the desperately needed renovation completed within a year. The county also has plans for an Emergency Services center that would be built near the Johnson Detention Center and house EMS, E-911 headquarters and emergency services.

The Medic 1 upgrades would also help with recruitment and retention as Laurens County routinely faces a shortage of EMS personnel – as is the case across South Carolina.

“We have students who come and do their ride-alongs and clinicals with us,” Pennington said. “To have them move into a more conducive atmosphere where they can relax during their down time and enjoy a hot meal on a table instead of on their laps in front of their trucks would help us. It sends the message that we care about our employees.”

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