To increase emergency response and coverage in the Cape Region, the Town of Dewey Beach and Sussex County Emergency Medical Services have partnered to open a new EMS station just off Coastal Highway.
Dewey Beach Police Chief Sam Mackert has been working with town and county officials for months to convert a town-owned, unoccupied apartment behind the code enforcement office into the new station, which opened Memorial Day weekend.
“The building has been sitting there empty the last several years, and it’s hard at times for EMS to get through traffic, so it’s a win-win to have advanced life support personnel here in Dewey,” Mackert said, noting the EMS staff could also assist town lifeguards when needed.
Sussex County EMS Director Robbie Murray said county council unanimously approved the station in April, and the county will pay $500 a year to assist with utility costs. The station will be open through Labor Day weekend and will possibly be staffed on major-event weekends during the shoulder season, he said.
“The location is about as perfect as it can be,” Murray said. “It made sense to expand in this area.”
Paramedics will also be able to quickly respond to calls in downtown Rehoboth and south toward the inlet when needed, Murray said.
Sussex County EMS Station 104 on Plantation Road serves Lewes and Rehoboth, and typically responds to 20 calls every 24 hours in July and August, he said, and often paramedics from Long Neck and Milton are called for help. Another seasonal unit operates on Route 54 in the Fenwick Island-Selbyville area, he said.
Town Manager Bill Zolper said about 20,000 people were in town over Memorial Day weekend, and the new station will free up other units like a domino effect, as units work together and shift when needed to ensure coverage in all areas.
Sussex EMS Special Operations Manager Glenn Marshall said historic data shows that two-thirds of all emergency calls occur during the day, so the station will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EMS officials expect the station to respond to 400 calls this summer.
Zolper and Mackert said they would like to include space for EMS personnel in the new town hall currently being developed.