Silver anniversary: Sussex EMS worth its weight in gold

GEORGETOWN – Sussex County’s Emergency Medical Services has reached the silver anniversary milestone.

Some say the life-saving role it has played over the past 25 years might be worth its weight in gold.

“There is not a more important service that this county provides than what you do; not one,” said Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett, R-Frankford. “There is nothing more important than saving lives.”

20 EMS silver anniversary

Flanked at left by Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent, Sussex County Emergency Medical Services Director Bob Stuart holds the proclamation presented at the Jan. 12 council saluting the EMS’s 25-year/silver anniversary.

Mr. Arlett voiced that complimentary commentary at county council’s Jan. 12 meeting punctuated by a proclamation salute, presented by County Administrator Todd Lawson to EMS Director Bob Stuart.

“Sussex County EMS is consistently among the first EMS programs in Delaware and the United States to introduce advances in procedures and equipment designed to ensure quality of care it provides, and the quality of care provides is the finest in the country,” said Mr. Lawson. “Sussex County EMS has served as an example of para-medicine at its finest, winning honors in national and international competition …”

Mr. Stuart thanked the county and county council for the insight and support for public safety.

“I want to take a moment to thank the county council, and all previous councils before you – and I know (councilman) George (Cole) was probably on all of them that I’ve been associated with …,” Mr. Stuart said. “Without the support of the state of Delaware obviously with the funding that they provide, but without the really intense support of this county and the county council and the leadership of the council we would not be here today.”

Public safety has long been a priority in county budgets. The fiscal year 2016 operating budget for EMS is $13,625,093; Sussex County pays 70 percent of the cost, or $9,537,565.

Sussex County Emergency Medical Services was created through a statewide initiative approved by the General Assembly in 1990 designed to provide acute, urgent medical car to citizens particularly in the rural communities where residents and hospitals can be separate by significant distances.

Subsequently the Sussex County EMS went into service on Jan. 15, 1991. In its infancy, it was a one paramedic unit/12 employee operation that responded to 3,700 calls the first year.

Presently, coinciding with the county’s growth, there are 11 units, 110 employees and last year Sussex EMS answered more than 18,000 calls.

“We have truly grown and we have seen several significant stages of growth,” said Mr. Stuart. “And that wouldn’t be possible without the support of the county council and the people that we serve. It is truly astonishing to have been 25 years ago and see this start and to see what it has become today. And I hope that it will continue to grow and provide excellent service as it does today – as long as I am around.”

“We’re proud of what you do and how you do it,” said county council president Michael Vincent, R-Seaford. “Thank you for all of your hard work.”

Mr. Stuart paid special recognition to retiring EMS employee Karen Phillips, whose retirement date was Jan. 15, 2016.

“Karen Phillips was among the original 12 people that started this service 25 years ago …,” said Ms. Stuart, who also recognized council president Vincent – who has more than four decades of fire/ambulance service – as “one of the founding fathers of the design of this service. He was in the group that helped set this up 25 years ago, a little bit more than that when they started.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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