News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014
BELVEDERE, S.C. (WRDW) -- For Kathy Smith, living and working near the Aiken County EMS 'Station One' on Edgefield Road in North Augusta gives her peace of mind.
"Oh, it's very important, because you never know when you're going to need one right away." says Smith, who serves on the board of First Christian Church of Belvedere. "Knowing that they're here, we know that they'll respond quick. Very quick."
But the EMS substation, attached to the magistrate's office, is closed for now. Just weeks ago, the county discovered a bed bug "infestation" where EMTs and paramedics were stationed. Aiken County EMS Director Tommy Thompson says, as far as he knows, no employees were bitten.
"The citizens deserve the best response that they need, so if we can do this to help them, then we're going to do it," says Chief Chad Hyler with the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Department.
Chief Hyler and his volunteer fire department have volunteered to help. Weeks ago, the fire station opened up its doors to Aiken County EMS. The fire department is only about half-a-mile from the closed station.
"We worked out an agreement where we were able to move a few trucks around to be able to house the medic unit here, due to probably 80% of our call volume is medical," says Hyler.
On Thursday afternoon, a car overturned on Edgefield Road near Bank of America. EMS responded in only a couple minutes to transport the driver who suffered minor injuries.
Meanwhile, the county says the bed bugs should be gone now after three weeks of extermination by a professional contractor, but workers are still renovating the 20-year-old building. Thompson says furniture will be replaced, and the building and living quarters will be vastly improved. He says the station near Langley Pond will be next up.
The EMS workers should move back to 'Medic One' in a few weeks. In the meantime, Belvedere will keep sharing space for free.
"This is just a friendly hand-shake between Belvedere Fire Department and Aiken County EMS," Hyler says.
That's good news to Smith.
"My dad is 85. He lives right next door. If we need something from the district or the area. Belvedere is very close," she says.
Thompson says, throughout the ordeal, EMS coverage never faltered. Capital City, a private ambulance service, also supplements EMS coverage in the North Augusta area.