The Stanly County Emergency Services Department can actually trace its beginnings back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. During that time period, the County Commissioners formed an agency known as the Stanly County Civil Defense Agency. This was a time of nuclear proliferation in the world and the Cold War was in full swing. The job of the Civil Defense Coordinator was to prepare the citizenry to protect itself and recover from a potential invasion by enemy forces and to coordinate activities of emergency personnel in preparation and response to such an event. During this time period, it was realized that many of the same response and recovery activities were used for non-war related emergencies. Thus the name such agencies used across the nation was changed to Civil Preparedness. It was during the middle 1950s that many volunteer fire departments and rescue organizations were formed. This agency played a vital role in the formation and equipping of these organizations for both peacetime and wartime response.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, this agency and its responsibilities continued to evolve and increase to the public for day to day emergencies. While invasion is always a possibility, planning for such an event took on an almost non-existent role on the state and local levels. The name of the agency changed again to Emergency Management to more accurately reflect the role of planning, response, recovery, and mitigation for a myriad of man-made and natural emergencies.
During this time period the fire problems grew. There was a need for more coordination of the fire service agencies and someone trained in fire cause investigations and fire prevention activities. The new duties of Fire Marshal were integrated into the office of Emergency Management in the County.
Also during the 1960s, the funeral homes got out of the ambulance business and over the years a for profit and a volunteer ambulance service surfaced. County government heavily subsidized both agencies. State certification of the evolving emergency medical service mandated individual training requirements. Quality of care still varied greatly until the early 1980s when the Emergency Management Agency and a Board appointed advisory council became responsible for insuring a minimum standard of care was met and recommending improvements in the system. During the early 1980s the franchised EMS providers, again with heavy financial commitments from the County, began advancing from basic emergency medical care and transport to higher levels of care. These advances basically brought treatment to the scene of the emergency that previously had to wait until the patient arrived at an emergency room, thus greatly increasing survivability. As this progression up the levels of care occurred it became increasingly evident to the Advisory Council, hospital officials, and County officials that the only way to obtain the highest level of care consistently across the County was for the County to assume responsibility to provide the primary emergency medical service in the County. On January 10, 1989, the County assumed operations from the Ambulance Service of Stanly County, Inc. and on February 1 assumed the primary coverage being provided by West Stanly Rescue, Inc. The responsibility of the new Stanly County Emergency Medical Services was placed in the Emergency Management Agency/Fire Marshal’s Office and the department renamed the Emergency Services Department to better depict the integration of these emergency service responsibilities. The EMS division then proceeded quickly to the Paramedic level, which is the highest certification recognized by the State of North Carolina.
Emergency Communications has never been a part of this agency. However, this agency has historically been involved in communications upgrades and was responsible for setting up and serving as staff to the 911 Steering Committee during its initial implementation stages. 911 Communications is a separate department and is not included in the Emergency Services Department. This was recommended by the steering committee to eliminate as many “turf” problems as possible between the emergency service providers throughout the County.