The New Castle County Paramedic Service 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 1933. Another unit dedicated to Wilmington later augmented the single ambulance. During this period, County Levy Court ambulances had a caseload comprised of approximately fifty- percent medical emergencies and fifty- percent non-emergency transports 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.
During 1974, the County Ambulance Division and the 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 was based in the City of Wilmington, and was dedicated in January 1976. 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. The most noteworthy of these studies were the reports by the Arthur D. Little Company and the Emergency Medical Services Task Force Report.
January 5, 1976: The first New Castle County paramedic unit is formally dedicated in Rodney Square, Wilmington. This marked the initiation of advanced life support services in Delaware.
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. 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.
During November of 1989, a County Council ordinance officially changed the name of the Department of Public Safety Ambulance Division to the “Emergency Medical Services Division.” The change in designation acknowledged the professional level of service provided by the division.
In 1990 the Delaware legislature enacted the Delaware Paramedic Services Act with the purpose of establishing a statewide paramedic program under the direction of the state Office of Emergency Medical Services. Under the provisions of the act, the New Castle County Emergency Medical Services Division was authorized two additional paramedic units, which were deployed in the Glasgow (Medic 6) and Prices Corner (Medic 7) areas.
EMS Station No. 6 is the first free-standing emergency medical services facility constructed by New Castle County. It was completed in 1992.
In November 2002, a “power shift” paramedic unit (Medic 8) was added during peak call volume periods. On January 10, 2007, the Emergency Medical Services Division added a second “power shift” paramedic unit (Medic 9) during the day shift from 0800 – 2000 hours, seven days a week. During the hours of Medic 9’s operation, units are shifted toward the City of Newark and Pike Creek Valley areas.
On February 24, 2004, New Castle County implemented an EMS Career Development Plan through unanimous vote of the County Council. The plan established different paramedic ranks in recognition of experience, education, professional credentials, and participation in additional activities and projects. The plan also added field supervisors with the rank of Paramedic Sergeant to each shift.
New Castle County EMS Division personnel pose after the unanimous vote from New Castle County Council that created and implemented the EMS Career Development Plan.
Today, the EMS Division operates seven paramedic units on a twenty-four hour bases, and nine paramedic units during peak call volume times. The paramedic units operate in a tiered response configuration with the basic life support ( BLS) ambulances of the volunteer fire service and contractual ambulance service for the City of Wilmington. New Castle County paramedics are certified through the state Board of Medical Practice, utilize statewide-standardized treatment protocols and standing orders for delivery of advanced life support (ALS) and have a fully implemented 12-Lead EKG and CPAP capability on all paramedic units. Special Operations capabilities include an ALS Bike Team, SWAT Paramedics, and the ability to deploy a multi-casualty incident support unit.
County Executive Christopher A. Coons delivers remarks during the dedication of a new EMS station in downtown Wilmington.
The Emergency Medical Services Division conducts their annual Graduation and Appointment Ceremony during National Emergency Medical Services Week. With the recognition of our newest members of the Service, our tradition of “Excellence in Service” continues.