When there’s an accident or a health crisis, people on Ocracoke as elsewhere, call 911 and the emergency medical service (EMS) responds by ambulance.

Ocracoke’s EMS is a service provided by Hyde County and is staffed by both paramedics and emergency service technicians (EMTs). Both are trained to respond quickly to medical emergencies, traumatic injuries and accident scenes.

Paramedics have advanced training in emergency medical care. They can administer certain medications, start intravenous lines, provide advanced airway management for patients, and resuscitate and support patients with significant problems such as heart attacks or stroke.

The EMS serves a particularly important role on the island because the Ocracoke Health Center does not operate as an emergency room.

Like many governmental entities, the EMS must deal with obtaining adequate funding, and, in our case, our EMS services must find a new location by the end of the year. The new digs will include ambulance housing, an office and a dormitory.

Although EMS may get some recognition for their work periodically, as with high profile incidents such as a shark attack that occurred on the island in early July, not many think of their 2 a.m. calls and other responses that have saved lives.

See Kay Slaughter’s tale (posted on this site) about her July mishap. A story by R.E. Spears III about his wife’s gall bladder emergency on the island was published Aug. 8 in the Suffolk News Herald.  It is titled  ‘She’s in good hands. Drive carefully.’

In this piece, Spears says that after his wife was secured in a helicopter to take her to Greenville, one of the attending EMTs gave him a hug and told him, “She’s in good hands. Drive carefully.”

This concern impressed Spears as he describes the ordeal. Fortunately, Spears’ wife came through surgery fine and is on the mend, according to the story.

“That’s good to know,” said Sandy Yeatts, one of the responding EMTs and who said he was the one who hugged Spears and comforted him with those words. “We don’t always know the outcomes,” Yeatts said about an EMTs work.

You can read Spears’ piece here.

After lifeguards stopped the bleeding of  Andrew Costello, 67, of Massachusetts, who was the shark attack victim July 1, Yeatts, along with NPS Ranger Shane Bryan attended Costello. Yeatts said the lifeguards had done an excellent job in treating the wound prior to Costello’s being air lifted to the hospital in Greenville.  Costello was released July 20.

Home owners and businesses can help save EMS minutes by posting reflecting street number signs. These signs also help narrow the location of homes that don’t have signs. Forms for ordering signs are available at the post office.

On Ocracoke several of the EMS team, including paramedics Dana Long and Mike Damba and EMT Sandy Yeatts, are also members of the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD).  That, to us, is dedication.

A while back, we printed a letter to the editor by Carter Whitman of Andover, NH, praising Ocracoke’s EMS for their professional response to a friend who was injured.

It concluded with: “It is a comfort to know that if a medical emergency arises on Ocracoke the professional members of the EMS and OVFD are there to help out.”

We thank them for their courage, dedication and their spirit. When you see someone with an EMS logo on their jersey, you can, too.



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  1. Thanks for recognizing our EMS. They are truly lifesavers and a Blessing to Ocracoke and all of Hyde. Bill Rich

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