The Orangeburg County Emergency Medical Services (OCEMS) program is dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care to patients with illnesses and injuries. OCEMS uses mobile data terminals equipped with specialized, state-of-the-art software for the purpose of processing patient care documentation. OCEMS also maintains a fleet of ambulances which feature customizations that make them particularly well-equipped to handle their unique task.
Excellent communication with the local hospitals allows for the crews to alert them of incoming medical and trauma emergencies. Protocols are in place for stroke alert and cardiac arrest. Air transport for the most severe trauma cases that need to be taken to a level 1 trauma center is available via a local helicopter, Life Net, stationed at the rear of the hospital. The OCEMS has access to Meducare helicopter on the far eastern side of the county. OCEMS is able to make ground transports to 2 hospitals: The Regional Medical Center, (TRMC), and Trident Regional Medical Center.
OCEMS has a large number of DOT certified first responder volunteers working within the county with their local fire departments. The OCEMS service conducts first responder training classes for the local volunteers. First responders are trained in CPR and basic first aid skills, which allows them to provide care until the ambulance can arrive on scene. OCEMS has a 911 Call Center facility built to withstand severe weather situations and equipped with a vast array of communications technology which aids our dispatchers in providing responsive assistance to those in need.
OCEMS came into existence in July of 1986. The service was started by its first director, John Smith, who at the time was also the Emergency Services Director for Orangeburg County. The first vehicles in the OCEMS fleet were 3 van-type ambulances, all operating out of one station which was located in the basement of the Orangeburg County courthouse.
As the volume of emergency calls increased and the demand for services across the expanse of Orangeburg County grew, the EMS division began working to meet the needs of the people. OCEMS opened two new substations in 1990 to better serve citizens, installing one in Santee and another in Neeses. In 1992, Orangeburg County hired its second EMS director, Jimmy McMillan, who came to the County from the State of South Carolina's DHEC office. While under the direction of McMillan, the service moved from the basement of the courthouse to its next home in the County's former administration building on Doyle Street.
Orangeburg County hired Don Lundy to become its third EMS director in 1994. Lundy came to Orangeburg by way of Greenville County's EMS operation, and prior to that he had served as an EMS director in the state of Florida. During Lundy's tenure, EMS in Orangeburg County grew even more and moved into its current base of operations located on Ellis Avenue. Not long after this, a third substation was deployed in Holly Hill on Branchdale Highway to cover the eastern portion of Orangeburg County.
In 2000, Orangeburg County hired Danny Rivers, its fourth and current EMS Director. Under the direction of Rivers, the service has continued to grow, adding a sixth unit to the primary service line and having received permission to open a fifth substation in the Bowman area.
OCEMS currently has 43 full-time positions and 20 for the part-time roster. OCEMS runs a 3 shift rotation, (A,B,C) with 13 people per shift. OCEMS also includes the 911 dispatchers, who work a 12 hour shift rotation. OCMES staffs six ambulances on a 24 hour, 7 days a week basis, and covers the entire county of 1,100 square miles. The service runs all ALS units when possible. Each ambulance is staffed with a paramedic and EMT-I, or EMT-B. All street employees work a 24 ‒ 48 hour schedule which means the crews work 24 hours on, and will be off for the next 48 hours. OCEMS responds to over 12,000 medical calls annually.
OCEMS now operates 5 stations: