County hears concerns over ambulance response times

By: By Erin Smith -

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Commissioners heard from Bladen County EMS Director David Howell with an update on an EMS service plan during the Monday meeting.

Howell told the board that Bladen County EMS is tasked with providing paramedic-level care to the public and, in order to do so, the proper resources must be in place.

Howell told the board that currently, the response time for an ambulance to reach the East Arcadia area from where it is currently based is about 18 minutes. He reviewed for the board the various locations where the EMS units are stationed during the periods from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Howell proposed to the board adding an additional unit, which would be stationed at White Lake Water Rescue, to cover the northeastern section of the county from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. This, according to Howell, would reduce response times for that part of the county. Howell also proposed shifting one unit to Dublin.

He also reviewed the call volumes for various areas of the county.

“If a paramedic is needed (to respond) with Tar Heel, we have to provide that,” said Howell.

Commissioner Chairman Charles Ray Peterson raised concerns about the total response times for the county.

“We are concerned about it, too,” said Howell.

After further discussion, it was requested that Howell gather further data and bring it back to the board for further review.

In other business:

— The Board held a public hearing regarding a rezoning request for a property located at 4088 US 701 North. Bladen County Planning Director Greg Elkins along with Joseph Bland with Par 5 Developments of Pinehurst. Bladen explained that the company had a plan in place to develop a Dollar General in that location. Bladen told the board the N.C. Department of Transportation had notified the company that there would need to be some upgrades made at the location including a turning lane. Bland said his company has abandoned plans to construct a store in that location due to the cost constraints caused by DOT’s requirements, but was still requesting the rezoning per the agreement with the landowner. The board approved the measure.

— Bladen County Board of Education Finance Officer Sharon Penny and Robert Heavenridge, school support services coordinator, presented two lottery fund applications for repairs to Elizabethtown Middle School. The repairs would include a roof over a portion of the main building and band room at a cost of $325,810 along with the replacement of two air-conditioning units also located on the roof at a cost of $37,570. The board approved the applications.

— The board approved a memorandum agreement with N.C. Incredible Years Network for the Young Families Connect program and an agreement with Home Health Advantage for billing purposes.

— Bladen County Health and Human Services Director Cris Harrelson informed the board that he had resigned his position on Monday morning, His last day will be Friday, Oct. 9. He has accepted the position of health director for Brunswick County.

Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Erin Smith