WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — Wilson County EMS is making moves to get to people faster during an emergency.

In November 2021, the county built a new EMS station in southern Wilson County, expanding service in the area from 12 hours a day to 24 hours.

(Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)

“At nighttime before, we responded to this community from our headquarters station, which is about a 10 minute drive. 6.5 miles, about 10 minutes from here,” said Michael Cobb, EMS Director for Wilson County.

Minutes and even seconds matter when it comes to getting somebody in the ambulance during an emergency, so paramedics can administer life-saving equipment.

As more people move to the area, Wilson County is working to improve EMS response times.

“The overarching goal is just an expansion of the footprint of county services and including EMS services into the places where services are needed,” Cobb said.

The county is building independent, county-owned EMS stations, moving away from shared space with volunteer fire stations.

Out of the five active EMS stations in the county, only two currently share space with fire stations — the East Station and the West Station.

“We’re in good relationships with them, we’re not anxious to get away from them,” Cobb explained. “It’s just a better way to serve so that the county can be committed to [its residents], and it’s a way for them to show commitment.”

Wilson County EMS jurisdictions for their Headquarters (green) and North Central Station (blue), once complete (Chloe Rafferty/CBS 17)

They’re also building a new station in the northern part of the City of Wilson, on the opposite side from their headquarters. It will be called the North Central Station.

Cobb said it’s only about three and a half miles away from their headquarters, but it’s a nine-to-12-minute drive, which is a long time for someone calling 9-1-1.

“Right now we’re having to drive through a large portion of the city to get to that side of the city, so our responses there are taking longer for us,” Cobb said.

According to Cobb, these changes for Wilson County EMS could also mean more jobs in the future as they manage the need for services.

It comes as county officials keep the future and the county’s growth in mind.

“’Good enough’ for 2023 might not be the case in 2027, and we have to go ahead and be thinking about that,” said Wilson County Manager Ron Hunt. “Wilson County is growing, and we’re proud of that. But with that growth comes some things we have to address, and those things are response times and also looking very carefully at our facilities and how they might best meet needs.”

He said the Wilson County Board of Commissioners understands the importance of EMS, especially during curtail or urgent times.

They hope bids for the construction of the new EMS station will happen in the next month or two, and they hope the construction process begins before January.

Once construction of the North Central Station is complete, Cobb said they plan to immediately begin construction on the new East Station. The county is currently in the purchasing process for that location.