CARY, NORTH CAROLINA — Cary Area Emergency Medical Services will enter a new phase in the evolution of the non-profit organization on May 3. On April 1, at 7 a.m., the organization ended 911 services to the citizens of Wake County after nearly 50 years of service following cancelation of the contract by Wake County.
“It was a difficult day for our volunteers, staff, and lifetime members,” Justine Hollingshead, a former volunteer with Cary Area EMS and new board chairperson. “We have been working on reimagining what Cary Area EMS can do in the future and how we can continue to serve our community.”
Moving forward, Cary Area EMS will continue as a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing emergency preparedness and response through education, training, service and outreach.
“We are committed to giving back to the community and serving those in need,” Hollingshead said.
But reinventing the organization comes with a cost.
“Being involved takes commitment and that is a bedrock of Cary Area EMS,” Christian Heinrich, a former staff member with Cary Area EMS and new board treasurer. “Over the years we have hosted free flu clinics, organized food drives for Dorcas Ministries Food Pantry, facilitated an annual Citizens’ Academy, participated in National Night Out, and sponsored blood drives in partnership with the American Red Cross and The Blood Connection. We plan to continue these outreach efforts and do even more to serve the community.”
About 65% of the employees for Cary Area EMS moved over to work for Wake County in line with a written agreement negotiated in March. Some members of the organization retired. Others just resigned. Still others set forth to create a new organization.
“We face a wide range of threats and potential hazards ranging from acts of terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemics, and natural disasters,” Hollingshead said. The ability to effectively respond after an emergency relies on many components including preparation, relationships we build, and partnerships.
There are gaps as it relates to preparedness nationally in communities from Cary, North Carolina to Bellingham, Washington. Just over half of the people in a recent national public preparedness poll say they do not have a plan in the event of a disaster. Former members and the board of the new Cary Area EMS has goals to help address these gaps through awareness, education and training.
“Our service and visibility in the local community is unparalleled,” Heinrich said. “We will continue to give back in every sense of the word and help to make our local community a better place.