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Harnett County celebrates Emergency Services Week

Monday, May 20, 2024

May 19-25, is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. Harnett County would like to celebrate and highlight those Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics who serve on the front line of medical emergencies and provide lifesaving care daily.

Harnett County EMS (EMS) continues to evolve and meet the needs of a growing county by providing critical care and supporting those in need. This week is a time to acknowledge the efforts, hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that they make by performing their line of work.

Last month, Harnett County EMS demonstrated their dedication and excellence in the field by winning the 2024 North Carolina State Paramedic Competition, completed by District Chief Morgan Langdon and Assistant Chief Jonathan Murphy.

“I became a paramedic because I possess a profound desire to make a difference in people's lives during their most vulnerable moments. Whether it's the adrenaline rush of responding to emergencies or the satisfaction of providing critical care, I was drawn to this profession by a calling to serve and help others in their times of need. My compassion, resilience, and dedication to saving lives drive me to excel in this challenging yet rewarding field,” said District Chief Morgan Langdon, Harnett County paramedic.


Harnett County EMS began in 1978 under the Medical Direction of Dr. Stanley McQuade, MD. At that time, Harnett Ambulance (formerly), began with eight employees who were certified in EMS-Basic (EMT-B) level and were trained in basic life support and provided non-emergency transport care for hospitals, nursing homes, and citizens.

Harnett County also had seven rescue squads in Lillington, Angier, Anderson Creek, Dunn, Coats, Bunnlevel, and Erwin. In 1982 and 1990s Benhaven and Buies Creek were added.

By 1988, Harnett County EMS expanded to over 15 members and began providing Advanced Life Support at the EMT-Intermediate (EMT-1) level and took additional courses at Good Hope Hospital to obtain a higher level of care.

Present day

46 years later, Harnett County Emergency Medical Services Department has over 170 employees who have significantly advanced their skills. EMS has also expanded into different roles such as tactical paramedic team, offering a community paramedic team and internal paramedic academy, providing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) education to the public, joining the search and rescue team, and refocusing their priority on overdose response.

The North Carolina Office of EMS requires EMS departments to have required training and Harnett County EMS goes above that training to obtain additional skills such as Tactical EMS, Advanced Medical and Trauma Life Support, Crisis Intervention Team, Hazardous Material Training with NC Regional Response Team, Obstetrical Care with Cape Fear Valley Health System, to name a few.

“As we celebrate EMS Week 2024, let's reflect on our dedication to serving our community with compassion, skill, and resilience. Each call we answer, every life we touch, is a testament to our commitment to excellence in emergency care. This week is not just about recognition; it's about reaffirming our mission, supporting one another, and continuing to grow as individuals and as a team. Thank you for your unwavering dedication. Here's to another year of making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Happy EMS Week,” said Alex Belanovich, Chief of Harnett County EMS. 

Questions and Answers with EMS staff:

Q: Why did you choose this career field?

A: “Some mornings leaving for work is hard, but I ask my son one question: what would you do if you called 911 and nobody showed up? My career with the county gives me the chance to show my son that every day I go to work I become a part of something so much bigger than myself. On a small scale, I get the chance to care for others when they need it most; on a large scale, being part of Harnett County EMS means that I am part of the infrastructure that provides our community with the security of knowing that they will be safe and cared for during any emergency. I am very proud to be a part of the community that I serve,” said Sonia Vela, Paramedic, (11 years with Harnett County EMS).

Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing this career field?

A: “The advice I would give to someone contemplating a career in EMS is to join a local department and volunteer a while to see how you like it and if you can stomach it. Then choose a local college and become certified and come join us,” said Danny Tadlock, EMT-Paramedic Lieutenant, (34 years with Harnett County EMS).

Q: What do you like most about the work that you do?

A: I chose to work with Harnett County because this is where I grew up and I wanted to serve in a place I love. I love that no matter what kind of call I go to, I am making a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s the smallest difference. I have a chance to connect with people, and show empathy and compassion, and learn about their lives,” said Sam Barnes, EMT Basic, (5 years with Harnett County EMS).

Q: Why did you choose Harnett County EMS?

A: “This career was chosen by me by a round-up act, I needed to fill a void in me and saw a sign that the Fire Department was given a free EMT class, so I decided to try it out. 36 years later I am still doing it. I like the way that Harnett County has become like a family, and yes it has ups and downs, but has always been a great organization to work with,” said Melvin Rodriguez, EMY Basic (18 years with Harnett County EMS).

Individuals are invited to stop by the Harnett County Resource Center & Library to drop off a note or card to thank EMS Workers. There is a basket located at the information desk that will be delivered to EMS staff this week, or they can design their own card in the library. 

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