Florence County adds EMS station

Florence EMS buys land for new facility

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Florence County leaders are adding more emergency resources to help keep you safe, while also catering to the millions of people who pass through Florence County when traveling.

The new EMS station going up along Sumter Street is one of two the county is building under the new penny sales tax referendum, which was approved last November.

The location for the building was not the first choice for the project.

Florence County Chairman James Schofield recalled the discussion he had with council members.

"We talked about putting it at the fire station on Slits Drive," he said.

Originally, the county considered building the new EMS station near the West Florence Fire Station, but reconsidered after hearing plans for the WFFD.

"The cost is less to build it on Cashua than it is at the fire station. When you put it at the fire station, it limits the ability for that fire station to grow if it needs to," Schofield said.

Right now, the county is still in the land buying phase, but it says the three acres it will buy along Sumter Street will cost $36,000. To build the new facility will cost another $750,000.

It's a location Florence County council says makes sense.

"If they need to go to West Florence, they can go Sumter Street extension out to Ebenezer and out to that area. If they need to be in downtown Florence they can take Sumter Street, " Schofield added.

The extra station, which will become the seventh EMS district - will also house the new truck and EMS personnel the county added not too long ago.

This is the main EMS station on Church Street. It answers about 45 percent of all emergency calls in Florence County, but it's not big enough to house the new equipment or employees.

"The station on Church Street, which has two ambulances: Number one, we now have three ambulances. Those people that are on those ambulances actually leave here at night and go to Lake City at night because we don't have a place for them to sleep," Schofield told WMBF News.

But that doesn't leave the city of Florence area uncovered.

WMBF News spoke to Ryon Watkins, Director of the Florence County EMS. He says there is enough manpower and equipment to answer emergencies at all times of the day.

Watkins says the ambulance and staff that will move into the new station will focus primarily on I-95 and Highway 52, because there is so much traffic and industry.

As long as everything stays on course, the new station is slated to be complete within eight months to a year.

There is also going to be a second EMS station built using funds from the penny sales tax.

There is no word on when that project will get started.

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