By Jesse Wood
The grand opening of the new medic base near Cove Creek is taking place on Monday, Feb. 20 from 12 to 2 p.m., announced Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque at this week’s commissioner meeting.
Known as Medic Base 3, the new ambulance station began taking calls last month across the street from Skateworld on U.S. 321. The new base is expected to decrease response times in districts that currently feature some of the longest response times in the county – up to 30 minutes or longer to more isolated regions from the two stations in Boone.
At a January meeting, Commissioner Billy Kennedy noted that this “exciting” development would cut down emergency response times in Western Watauga.
An ambulance station in Western Watauga has been a topic of discussion by commissioners for years. Data compiled for the commissioners in 2013, showed that districts such as Shawneehaw, Cove Creek, Beaver Dam, and Zionville, featured the slowest response times than districts in other parts of the county.
On average, the districts in Western Watauga featured an emergency response time of 18:20 minutes and represent 17 percent of all the calls in the county.
Watauga County purchased 13 acres in 2014 for 102,000 for the site of this medic base. Construction began during the winter of 2015-16. McGuire Construction, the lowest bidder, was awarded the project with a bid of $558,097, and the county set aside $150,000 for contingency. Commissioners also agreed to fund an additional 12-hour shift for Watauga Medics for the additional site at about $170,000.