02/23/09 — Rescue group opens new office on U.S. 117

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Rescue group opens new office on U.S. 117

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 23, 2009 1:46 PM

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The new North Carolina Association of Rescue and EMS office is seen early today. The office was dedicated during a ceremony Sunday.

Gordon Joyner can remember spending up to eight days during a hurricane working from the cramped quarters of the old N.C. Association of Rescue and EMS office on U.S. 117 North.

Hopefully, that won't happen again, but if it does, association employees have a new 16,000-square-foot office on U.S. 117 South near Food Lion to work from.

Actually, the association will use only 6,000 square feet of the space. The remaining 10,000 square feet will be leased out, said Joyner, who has served as association executive director since 1981.

"That is our plan if the economy turns around," he said.

Local and state officials attended a ribbon cutting for the new building Sunday afternoon.

Joyner said invoices are still coming in and that the final cost of the building will be between $1.5 million to $2 million, which will be paid with members' dues.

The association board of directors approved the purchase of the land in January 2005 and construction got under way in October 2007.

Joyner said the board had asked him to look for a new location for the office. Since the four employees at the office are from Goldsboro, Joyner said he wanted to keep the office in the county.

Most of the work has been completed except for some minor landscaping, and next week a VIPER radio system will be installed enabling the office to communicate with agencies across the state.

The move means the association would have enough space if additional employees are needed.

The office has a kitchen area, showers, meeting rooms and place where cots can be set up.

"That makes it easier for the employees and more economic for the association," Joyner said.

The association office was located in Elkin from 1957 to 1981 when Joyner was elected as executive director. It was through Joyner's leadership that the office moved to Goldsboro.

Originally an elected office, the executive director was later appointed by the association's board of directors. The office is now a contracted position, Joyner said.

The association represents 554 departments across the state and has 27,000 members.

The office is a part of the state's Emergency Response Team and is activated when that team is.

When activated, the office locates needed resources and then hands them off to the state or federal agencies.

Doing so means the expenses involved with the operation are paid for by the state and/or federal governments.

The association is responsible for verifying and qualifying people for different levels of rescue and EMS training.

"We set the standards for rescue across the state," Joyner said.

To qualify for membership an organization must have at least eight certified people trained at the level they are serving. They must have a corporate structure and have the authority, such as from county commissioners, to operate.

"They just can't come up and say we are going to join," Joyner said.

There are other benefits to membership including scholarships for members and their children and death benefits from the association and state and federal level.

Currently, 460 people are receiving scholarships, Joyner said.