Kenansville Fire Department Starts Ambulance Service, 1955

“Believed to be the only ambulance as such owned by a volunteer fire department in North Carolina,” noted the Duplin Times on July 14, 1955. See article below

Definitely one of the earliest. What other volunteer (only) departments were operating ambulances at that time?

That’s the open question to readers, to accompany these neat pictures and a bit of history shared by our friends in Kenansville. Top is a 1962 Carryall, from around 1964. Bottom left is a 1968 Chevy, one of three. Department-owned, though KFD received some county monies to operate. Bottom right is a 1975 Chevy Type I. Bought new and customized in Kinston.

Fire Chief Danny Chambers shares this history:

Kenansville FD operated EMS services until 2004, when they ceased operations on February 14. Duplin County EMS was providing service by that time, but primarily Monday to Friday, during daytime hours. On April 1, 2004, DCEMS started their first 24/7 shift, with one unit, and supplemented by the volunteer EMS units that were still active. (Our neighbors Warsaw EMS had recently shut down operations as well.)

By that fall, DCEMS had six 24/7 units. They progressed to paramedic level within months. Today, they operate eight units, and only two volunteer EMS units still operate.

Basically, KFD ran an ambulance from 1955-2004. They were mostly “load and go” until 1966, when the first ambulance service studies and white papers came out. Then in 1978, the funeral homes here gave notice that they were getting out of the ambulance business. Duplin County then organized what they called a “rescue unit” (ambulance) that consisted of three volunteer trucks, all manned by FDs. With more units started in the next few years. The county eventually had three rescue/EMS only stations and five FD-run ambulances.

Because we were centralized, KFD was tasked with responding with the first hydraulic rescue tools in the county. In 1978, the Duplin County Rescue Association purchased a Hurst rescue tool. It was placed on a 1974 Chevy truck with a Reading service/utility body. The truck was KFD owned. For a period of time, this was the only extrication tool in Duplin county. Later, other departments started adding them. We owned and operated this Hurst tool until 1995, when we purchased a set of Halmatro tools. The original Hurst tools were sold to Dover FD.

We initially carried only basic rescue equipment in the ambulance. Hand tools, jacks, etc. The 1962 Carryall served as both our ambulance and rescue unit. It was designated unit 156. We still perform vehicle and machinery extrication. Only department in Duplin County is classified as a light-duty rescue, I believe, and that’s Faison FD.

At KFD, we had two rosters, one for fire and one for EMS. However, most of our EMS personnel were also firefighters and had to meet training requirements for both.

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