Officials say Sussex County Paramedic Station 106 a prototype for the future.
Located on Indian Mission Road near Long Neck, the station had its grand opening July 23 in a ceremony attended by dozens of politicians, state officials, invited guests and first responders.
“This is our flagship station and our model for the future,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson.
The county now owns two of its eight paramedic stations; the other was built in 2009 in Laurel.
“It's the goal of the county council that when the opportunity presents itself that we proceed out of the leasing business and into the owning business,” said Council President Mike Vincent.
Sussex County Emergency Medical Services Director Bob Stuart said it's important for the county to get out of rented facilities to save taxpayers' money. Any future station constructed by the county would follow the same footprint and layout as Station 106.
In addition, the station was built to be retrofitted to accommodate ambulances, Stuart said. Currently, Sussex EMS does not provide ambulance service, but Stuart said it's best to prepare in case the county's paramedic program changes in the future. Ambulance service is provided by local fire departments and private companies.
Station 106 – initially opened in May 2000 – was housed in two locations before moving to its permanent home. It was located at Seafarers Center on Long Neck Road and then at Mid-Sussex Rescue Squad about one-half mile away. The station cost $594,000 – including $115,000 to purchase the property – and includes a two-bay garage, day room, exercise room, kitchen, communications room and sleeping quarters.
The Sussex paramedic program is the most expensive department in county government with a budget of about $12 million. The state covers 30 percent of the costs or about $3.6 million. “Public safety is an expensive business, but a critical business,” Lawson said. “We appreciate our partnership with the state.”
Station 106 provides coverage to Long Neck, Angola, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes and Millsboro. There is also a station headquartered along Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach to serve the resort area. In 2012, Station 106 paramedics responded to more than 2,000 emergency calls, compared to 1,300 calls when it went in service in 2000.
Stuart said 30 sites were looked at during the search for a parcel to construct the station. “We had to find the perfect location,” he said.