DDCC gets $15 million to build new EMS training and public health facility

Davidson-Davie Community College
Davidson-Davie Community College

Davidson-Davie Community College is trying to help address issues identified after recovering from the pandemic, notably the need for more first responders and a public health venue that can be used for mass community vaccinations.

According to Jenny Varner, vice president of external affairs at Davidson-Davie Community College and executive director of the Davidson-Davie Foundation, the community college received $15 million in state capital and infrastructure funds to build a new emergency response and public health facility.

These funds were part of the allocations of the state budget passed in November 2021.

According to Varner, the new facility would be for emergency response and public health training, cold storage and flexible space for large scale public health response, such as mass vaccinations conducted during the height of the pandemic.

Representatives with Davidson-Davie Community College stated leadership has been undergoing the planning process for the new facility, including working with architects and stakeholders such as public health professionals, hospital partners, emergency responders and faculty who teach and oversee these programs at the college.

"Davidson-Davie has long played a significant role in providing education for emergency responders, both for initial training and for ongoing education and certification needs. We are deeply grateful for all our community partners in emergency response and public health as we continue to work together to keep our community and region safe. The new facility will be an important resource in our ongoing efforts,” said Varner.

Construction of the new facility is expected to begin in early 2024 and should take approximately three years to complete. The proposed location is on Old Greensboro Road near the existing roundabout, which is the main entrance to the college.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Davidson County has struggled, like other counties across the nation, to fill the ever-widening labor shortage in emergency response.

Davidson County is actively recruiting to fill open positions for 911 operators, EMTs, inspectors and in other departments.

In April, the NC Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis reported Davidson County currently had 37 open positions in different departments. The county has increased the hourly wages and overtime pay for some of these positions.

Earlier this year the Davidson County Board of Commissioners approved a one-time offer to pay $750 for each current EMT who works for the county to attend a 19-month program at Davidson-Davie Community college to obtain their paramedic certification.

“There is still a need, and we are still looking for more EMS personnel”, said Mark Robbins, EMS operations manager of Davidson County Emergency Services.

Janna Walker, public health strategist for the Davidson County Health Department, said the proposed facility would be beneficial to the community in a variety of ways.

“We have learned a lot of lessons over the past three years, the vaccine clinics were a big eye opener. From what I understand about the project, this facility will give us a central location to provide training, host events, set up shelters, hold clinics; there are lots of possibilities. I am excited that the college realizes what an asset this can be for the community,” said Walker.

This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: DDCC gets $15 million to build new EMS training and public health facility