Surry turns dirt for new squad building

Published 6:01 pm Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Facility will also accommodate emergency operations center

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer 

SURRY — Surry County officials broke ground Thursday for a new Surry County Rescue Squad and Emergency Operations Center. 

The building will serve as the base for the volunteer rescue squad and the 9-11 dispatch center, which currently operate in separate buildings. 

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The $4 million center, to be located in the county’s industrial park, is estimated to be completed by fall of 2019, said Surry County Emergency Services Coordinator Ray Phelps.

Rescue Squad Captain Jennifer Gwaltney said that at the squad’s current location on Rolfe Highway, ambulances are too large to fit into the building. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“We have to take the antennas off in order to fit them inside,” she said.

The new rescue squad center will be about 8,294 square feet, and the adjacent emergency operations center will be about 3,842 square feet. Composition will be premanufactured metal and masonry.  

The three Surry County volunteer fire departments will also have more training space once the center is complete, since it’ll provide enough height to house a fire engine, said Phelps. 

Additionally, the center will have separate male and female bunking facilities for rescue squad volunteers pulling long or rigorous shifts, according to Gwaltney.   

Since the early 1970’s, the Rescue Squad has operated out of a deteriorating brick building that used to be a car dealership, said Gwaltney.

 “The building’s been refurbished twice,” Gwaltney said, adding that the building’s been added on to and that it’s a tight space for the rescue squad’s 28 volunteers and eight paid staff.   

“I’ve been on the board 19 years now and I think this is my first ground breaking,” said Surry County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Seward.

Seward also discussed other projects completed in the county including a library and a marina project, and said he hopes the rescue squad and 9-11 dispatch center project is just as successful.  

Carsley District Supervisor Kenneth Holmes was excited that property development is underway in his district and said he hopes this project leads to more. 

“This is land development,” said Holmes. “When people come along the highway here, they can peer through, see this facility and also the Windsor Mill facility, and that will hopefully motivate other businesses to want to come in and set up on Route 10.” 

Interim Surry County Administrator Sanford “Sandy” Wanner said he wanted to do a ground breaking for the center because he doesn’t want positive developments in the county go unnoticed. 

Gwaltney mentioned that the Surry County Rescue Squad is always looking for volunteers.  {/mprestriction}