Officials are close to the start of construction for a new Sussex County Emergency Operations Complex in the Delaware Coastal Business Park.
They have designed an $11.4 million, 20,000-square-foot emergency medical services administration and training/certification complex that will be connected to the existing Sussex County Emergency Operations Center.
“Having paramedics and 911 dispatch under the same roof provides significant efficiencies,” said county engineer Hans Medlarz.
During Sussex County Council's Oct. 6 meeting, Medlarz said the project is part of an ongoing effort to get all employees out of the west complex near Route 113 where several county departments are currently housed. Located just off Route 113 behind M&T Bank in Georgetown, the complex includes the Sheriff's Office and offices for the county’s libraries, housing and community development, public works, information technology, and mapping and addressing departments as well as Emergency Medical Services administration. The second floor was converted to a training center in 2013.
Even so, the building has significant infrastructure issues, Medlarz said. Dating back to the 1970s, the complex has problems with its HVAC system, insulation and meeting energy standards.
“We won't pump money into the facility. It would almost be a waste of money to save it. It's less expensive to build new buildings,” Lawson said. “It's a long-term project to relocate everyone out of the west complex.”
In the new complex
EMS Director Robbie Murray said one-quarter of the building is devoted to training and certification, with simulation rooms, classrooms and a large training room for up to 50 people. He said the county's simulation ambulance will be moved from the west complex to the new building.
Also included are parking bays for a shift commander and an integrated health vehicle, and another for testing using an EMS vehicle.
Medlarz said part of the project includes work at the emergency operations center, including a reconfigured lobby area and upgraded kitchen. A new cooling tower will also have to be installed.
The new building will also include a logistics section and EMS warehouse to store supplies and COVID-19 personal protection equipment.
The engineer said the design of the building allows for a second floor to be added in the future.
Medlarz said final design should be completed in early spring with construction starting around July 1. Funds for design and construction come from the county's real estate transfer tax fund.
West complex has had work done
In early 2013, the county renovated some areas of the west complex, including construction of a 3,000-square-foot training center in the unoccupied second floor. The building was made handicapped accessible, and electrical and HVAC upgrades were done.
A 2009 study showed that the county needed 45,000 more square feet of space, and plans were started to construct a new $40 million, 100,000-square-foot county complex to consolidate most departments under one roof. Two other smaller options were also discussed.
However, with three new councilmen in office, they voted to shelve the idea and focus on the county's existing buildings.