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Guilford EMS wants more money to speed up response times

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STOKESDALE, NC -- Guilford County Emergency Services Director Alan Perdue said he needs about $1.5 million to ensure faster emergency response times in the northwest part of the county.

Perdue asked county commissioners for the money, which he says will be used to hire 22 more people, including 10 paramedics. The new personnel would work out of a yet-to-be built base near the airport.

"What that means to us is not just the airport proper but the (Highway) 68 corridor going up north toward Oak Ridge and eventually into Stokesdale," Perdue said.

EMS tries to respond to all emergencies in less than nine minutes and all nonemergencies in less than 16 minutes.

Vivian Wells is a northwest Guilford County resident who would like to see more first responders in the area.

"I think it'd be better if they had a quicker response time," Wells said.

Nine years ago she called 911 when her pregnant daughter was losing blood quickly. Both mother and child were in danger, so when she'd waited too long, Wells drove her daughter and two grandchildren to the hospital herself.

"It's terrifying. It was just really frustrating giving them all this information and they never come," Wells said.

That, Perdue said, is his worst nightmare.

"The worst thing that can happen or us is somebody calls and we're not there," Perdue said.

With a new base, new personnel, and new equipment, Perdue believes they'll lower response time on calls now and in the future. He estimated 911 calls in Guilford County could reach 146,000 a year as the Baby Boomers reach age 65.

Perdue is responsible for caring for each one of them and everyone else in the 650 square miles that make up Guilford County.

"Failure is not an option in the services we're providing," Perdue said.