BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — Beaufort County now has its first standalone emergency medical services station.
On Wednesday morning, Beaufort County Council and Beaufort County EMS hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility, located on Shanklin Road in Beaufort.
“I can’t even tell you how excited I was to get this station built. We have wanted this for as long as I’ve been an EMS,” said Beaufort County EMS Director Donna Ownby, who joined Beaufort County Councilman Gerald Dawson in delivering opening remarks.
Ownby began her EMS career in 1982 and became director in 2009. “This represents the county saying how much they appreciate all the hard work that these people do,” she told WSAV NOW.
The Beaufort County engineering department handled project management for the new station.
It will house an ambulance with two crew members along with a quick-response vehicle with one crew member.
The station will also provide service to medical 911 calls in areas north of the Broad River, including Highway 21/Trask Parkway at Hogarth Street to Bruce K. Smalls Drive and from Broad River Boulevard up to Clarendon Road.
The facility was presented to the public via a virtual and in-person ceremony. Dawson cut the red ribbon to a round of applause.
Ownby shared during her opening comments that Beaufort County’s EMS workers respond to 325 calls weekly and 16,000 calls each year.
“Having a station here centrally located is going to cut our response times, and anytime you cut response times, you make it a much safer place for the county and the people that live here,” Ownby said, adding, “You can get there much quicker and keep your time down that the EMS responds and gets to the person in need.”
The new EMS station, which was designed by Court Atkins Group and built by Fraser Construction, will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
It includes a break room and individual dorm rooms for EMS workers. The station will eventually offer a blood pressure check room for community members.
Ownby says an additional EMS station is scheduled to open in Bluffton in the fall.
“The state of South Carolina is having trouble finding paramedics and EMTs, but we’re working very hard to make this the most attractive place to work for, and stations like this do that,” she said.
“This is actually an attraction for somebody to want to work for Beaufort County,” she added.
When Beaufort County EMS began in 1974, it was based out of Beaufort Memorial Hospital to serve county residents and visitors.
Since then, the number of the county’s EMS workers has grown. Its employees and ambulances have been placed throughout Beaufort County, housed with local fire departments.