The Mountain View/Hays area is getting a much-needed Wilkes Emergency Medical Services substation staffed 24/7, thanks to the cooperative efforts of Wilkes County government, the Wilkes County Schools and the Mountain View Ruritan Club.

Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd emphasized that this was a good example of local entities working together for the public’s benefit when he spoke at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new substation last week.

The Ruritan club agreed to make part of its property along Mountain View Road, including part of the driveway to its clubhouse, available for the substation through a long-term free lease to the county.

In return, the county commissioners agreed to pave the entire clubhouse driveway (including where it is relocated) and parking lot. The county commissioners appropriated $350,000 for the new substation and related work.

The Wilkes County school board approved allowing use of nearly half an acre of adjacent Mountain View Elementary School land for the substation, including for part of the substation’s septic system.

Byrd said the school board’s action is consistent with a goal of utilizing schools for the betterment of their communities.

Wilkes public schools do this in multiple ways, in addition to the obvious role of preparing young people for successful careers and being responsible citizens.

Grant funds were used a few years back to improve school walking tracks and playgrounds to make exercise more convenient, especially for people living well outside the Wilkesboros. School facilities are also used for youth athletics.

Bins for recyclables at some schools are available for public use. Schools are also utilized as after-hour meeting places, including by local churches for “Good News Clubs.”

Currently, no part of Wilkes needs a substation more than Mountain View/Hays considering the population concentration in that area and the narrow, curvy roads connecting it to the rest of Wilkes.

Building a substation on the East Wilkes Middle School property is the next step in Wilkes EMS Director Tim Pennington’s plan for achieving a national standard of responding to at least 90% of calls in 10 minutes or less in Wilkes.

School officials have made the East Middle property available at no cost for this purpose.

When Pennington shared the plan early last year, Wilkes EMS achieved the goal of 10 minutes or less on about 70% of calls.

Pennington’s plan calls for having EMS ambulances and crews based 24/7 at substations in Mountain View, on the East Wilkes Middle School property and at the Millers Creek Fire Station, as well as at a new EMS base that commissioners have been talking about building on Call Street near the Wilkes County courthouse in Wilkesboro for years.

Some fire departments, including Mountain View and Ronda, lack space in their fire stations to house an EMS ambulance and crew.

When Pennington’s plan was unveiled, the commissioners were told that reaching cardiac arrest patients in Wilkes in not over 10 minutes meant a 30-32% chance of restoring a heartbeat. When the response took over 10 minutes, the chance of getting a heartbeat fell substantially.

Now it’s time to provide residents of far eastern Wilkes with the improved emergency medical coverage they deserve by concentrating on building a substation on the East Wilkes Middle School property. It literally is a matter of life or death.

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