Growing Middletown to add paramedic station
New Castle County is spending $718,000 to purchase five acres for a new paramedic station south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to improve response times as the area continues to grow.
County Council approved the purchase last week after years of discussion over where local government will grow its emergency services in the southern part of the county.
“The location couldn’t be better,” said Councilman Bill Bell, who is one of two council members representing residents south of the canal.
Southern New Castle County is one of the fastest growing areas in the state.
“It is in the growth area. It is needed now,” said Councilman Jea Street. “The need will become even greater moving forward.”
The land sits off North DuPont Parkway near Boyds Corner and east of Middletown. It is adjacent to a planned shopping center that will be known Huber’s Crossing. The property is between Del. 1 on the east and U.S. 13 to the west as well as Pole Bridge Road to the north and Bayview Road to the south.
The station will be next to an Odessa Fire Company station on the north side of the property, Bell said.
Councilman Bill Powers, who also represents the county below the canal, said the land is in the ideal place because of quick access to nearby major highways.
The county has $4.2 million set aside for the study and construction of a southern EMS station. The station’s design still needs to be finalized and bid so the total cost is unclear.
Lawrence E. Tan, chief of New Castle County’s Emergency Medical Services, said the design will parallel those created when Odessa was being considered t for the station.
That station was to be a 12,000-square-foot facility with space for six emergency vehicles. The facility was also designed to have space for training and meetings. It was expected to cost between $2 million and $3 million. That plan fell apart after opposition from Odessa town officials.
Emergency medical response is conducted on a tiered system in New Castle County. Volunteer fire services and other private entities provide basic life support transporting patients to an emergency room.
County paramedics are stationed at nine locations throughout the county. They are trained in advanced life support techniques like intravenous fluid therapy, administering drugs and airway support. They are dispatched when there is a serious medical emergency or trauma.
The county currently has one paramedic unit on-call around the clock below the C&D Canal. That unit has two paramedics typically working together on a shift. They are currently based at a former police substation in Middletown.
When there are multiple emergencies that require paramedic attention in the area, paramedics in some cases have had to be dispatched from the Glasgow station.
Bell said the new location is meant to replace the current paramedic station that has no room to grow and inadequate cover for the emergency vehicles.
He said that becomes a problem for medicine onboard the EMS vehicles when temperatures drop.
“It just hasn’t been conducive to the operation of our paramedics,” Bell said.
The purchase ends a long conversation about where a new station would go. Previous County Executive Paul Clark was negotiating a new station at a Christiana Hospital site in Middletown. Bell said that location was ultimately not suitable because of space limitations and other factors.
“The new station is part of our continuing efforts to improve our county’s excellent services,” said County Executive Thomas P. Gordon though a spokeswoman.