When a serious emergency occurs in New Castle County a small group of professionals drops everything.
In addition to firefighters, ambulance crews, and local law enforcement, New Castle County Emergency Service are often called on to assist. Able to provide advanced life support care, including procedures normally found in a hospital emergency room, New Castle County medics add a unique skill set to the first responder team.
These specially trained medical professionals, usually operating as a two-person unit, are dispatched to incidents that require advanced breathing treatments, heart monitoring, intravenous fluid therapy, drug administration, and other intensive care measures. Their services are also utilized at structure fires, traffic accidents, and even crime scenes. Having one of these medic units at an incident offers the patient hospital type emergency care at the scene and during transport to the hospital.
Medics work side by side with firefighters and ambulances crews from the Volunteer Fire Service and the City of Wilmington Fire Department 24 hours a day seven days a week.
The agency can trace its roots to the New Castle County Ambulance Service that was initiated under the County Levy Court system with a single ambulance covering all of New Castle County, including the City of Wilmington, in October 1933. Another unit dedicated to Wilmington later augmented the single ambulance. During this period, County Levy Court ambulances had a caseload comprised of approximately 50% medical emergencies and 50% non-emergency transports that took patients to and from hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices.
In May 1961, basic ambulance services were expanded to include another unit dedicated to the areas south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. With the increases in demand for emergency and non-emergency service, the County Ambulance Service expanded once again to permit the designation of vehicles and personnel exclusively for emergency responses.
In 1974, the County Ambulance Division, Wilmington Medical Center, Delaware Heart Association, and Doctors for Emergency Service initiated a joint effort to establish advanced life support (ALS) “paramedic” services as a pilot program. The ALS paramedic program represented an entirely different concept in pre-hospital patient care. The first paramedic unit in Delaware was based in the City of Wilmington and was dedicated on January 5, 1976, in Rodney Square. It remained a pilot program for the next four years while several studies were undertaken to determine the methods to be used for any further expansion of the ALS services.
As the need and value of paramedic services was realized, the county initiated an expansion into the areas outside the City of Wilmington. In 1978, a second paramedic unit was stationed in the area south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at what would become EMS Station No. 5.
Over the next two years, much effort went into the planning and coordinating of both existing and future services. The Ambulance Advisory Board was established to meet these planning needs and developed a “five-station plan.” Additionally, non-emergency transportation services were discontinued in order to concentrate on the proposed ALS paramedic services program expansion.
From 1980 to 1982, the Ambulance Division completed its most rapid period of expansion. A third paramedic unit was added in 1980 and assigned to EMS Station No. 2 on Summerville Road in New Castle. In March 1981, a fourth paramedic unit was assigned to the County Engineering Building on Kirkwood Highway, which became known as EMS Station No. 3. The completion of the five-station deployment plan was observed in November 1981 when the fifth paramedic unit was placed in the Claymont Fire Company sub-station located at Marsh and Naamans Road. This location became known as EMS Station No. 4. In 1990 two additional paramedic units were deployed to Glasgow (EMS Station No. 6) and Prices Corner (EMS Station No. 7) areas.
In 2009 the Emergency Medical Services Division of the Department of Public Safety became the first EMS agency in Delaware to achieve national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS). The CAAS accreditation verifies that the New Castle County Paramedics meet the “gold standard” for a modern emergency medical service. New Castle County EMS was the first ALS-intercept agency to ever complete the CAAS accreditation process.
Today the multi-jurisdictional paramedic service covers the entire 437 square miles and over 552,778 residents of New Castle County responds to over 35,000 incidents a year.