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THURSDAY. APRIL 16. 1992
COUNTDOWN TO ENHANCED 91 1 CONT1NUFS
Doug Ledgett Patiently Turning Vision Into Reality
HY TERRY POPE ?
Responding to cmcrgcncics has been part of Doug
Ledgett's job, or rather calling, for 20 years. He
knows the importance of patience.
The Southport attorney set aside a law career to be
come Brunswick County's Emergency Medical Services
supervisor in November 1990. Later. Brunswick County
Commissioners gave him another title, assistant to the
With the county's enhanced 91 1 program scheduled
to go on-line later this month, many of its components
and supporting features reflect Ledgett's vision for the
future ? a county with paid emergency paramedics who
work around the clock to help save lives.
"He was obviously the right person for the position,"
said County Manager David Clcgg. "It's his first love.
When he was hired, 1 just could not have been more
Ledgctt had served on the Southport Volunteer Fire
Department since 1971 and on the town's rescue squad
since 1974. He was selected chairman of the Brunswick
County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council
and has served on the advisory council for emergency
services for the Region O Cape Fear Council of
Governments as a planning agent for medical Services.
"One reason 1 took the position," said Ledgctt, "is it
became evident that as long as we had an all-volunteer
system we wouldn't improve on our response time or
patient care. We needed to get higher than where we
were. That's not to say that we weren't getting good
His comer office in the county administration build
ing at the Brunswick County Government Center has
been a busy spot for more than a year. But Ledgctt isn't
likely ic take sole crc^it for hringing 91 1 closer to reali
ty. Instead, he says, it was a countywidc effort on the
part of Emergency Management employees, volunteers
in fire and rescue departments, county planners and oth
"He took programs that were in their infancy to where
they are today," said Clcgg. "He's a very quiet worker.
He's gone about his duties and not made a lot of waves,
but you can certainly move swiftly without making a lot
Part of those duties involves working 10 to 12 hours a
day and taking Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
training classes at night. Half of his time is spent prepar
ing for 91 1, selecting equipment and coordinating agen
cies involved in the detailed communications network.
The other half is spent overseeing Emergency Medical
Keeping long hours, he says, isn't a problem.
]menhi^monthPMENT "" C?"nty '5 9" Ce"ter " A"antic Telephone employee Ixirry Mies. The program, not yet in operation, is "chilled iTbegin
"I had been doing that as a volunteer, so it's nothing
different," he said.
Patience and dclibcratcncss under pressure have been
his trademark. The 911 program has been hit with nu
merous delays as a result of late approval for building
designs and delayed factory delivery of radio equipment.
It was originally scheduled to begin Jan. 1.
The countdown to 911 continues. His enthusiasm for
the program remains steady.
"It's going to be something that people can appreci
ate," said Lcdgett. "It's going to save some lives."
Last month, Brunswick County's 12 paid EMT
Intermediates moved from basic life support to ad
vanced life support certification, which allows them to
start intravenous fluids, to monitor and to defibrillatc pa
tients in cardiac arrest to restore heart rhythm while en
route to the hospital. EMTs provide backup scrvicc to
rescue volunteers, especially during days when volun
teers must hold regular jobs.
Approximately 45 volunteers will finish EMT
Intermcdiate training this year. The goal is for the paid
EMTs to finish paramedic training within two years.
Paramedics work by radio with doctors to dispense med
icine to patients on the scene or enroute to the hospital.
Lcdgett practices what he preaches. He, too, will train
to become a paramedic through the program offered at
Brunswick Community College, spending two or three
nights per week for 18 months in a classroom alter
"By the time they're through, they will probably have
about 1,400 hours of training," said Lcdgctt.
So far, there have been approximately 12 calls where
advanced life support training has come in to play to
help save lives in Brunswick County, said Lcdgctt.
Often, EMTs will meet with squads which are enroute to
the hospital with a patient. It requires cooperation
among the departments.
"You don't sec the squabbling that we once had be
tween rescue squad chiefs," said Lcdgctt. "They meet
oncc a month now. There is really good communication
It has been Lcdgctt's role as "grand facilitator" that
ended the squabbling, said Clegg. Ledgett is a 20-year
fire and rescue volunteer himself, and volunteers have
grown to trust him across the county.
"He's a wonderful communicator," said Clegg. "He
can explain things in a way that people understand. A lot
of issues could have been more volatile had he not had
that talent for being able to communicate well. He's
been a tremendous asset to Brunswick County."
His goal is to push forward with emergency services.
He will move his office this month into the Emergency
Operations Center that houses 91 1 and run the program
from there. He will operate the growing Emergency
Medical Services program and oversee the Geographic
Information System, a database of maps and information
on every parcel of land in Brunswick County, accessible
through 91 1.
As the countdown moves closer to 91 1, it's been the
smaller details of the program that have kept him
busiest of late. But he's remained cool under pressure.
Any system as detailed as 911 will involve minor set
backs, he said.
"That's to be expected in any system," said Lcdgett.
"Everything's got to fit together and will continue to
When he accepted the job, Lcdgcu said he would
view it as a challenge. A law practice served as a voca
tion to support his avocation and first love, emergency
services. Law experience comes in handy now when
dealing with issues of liability or with contractual mat
"I'm rather ambitious in my plans," admits Ledgelt.
It's an ambition that has been good for Brunswick
County and its citizens, said Clcgg.
"We would not be at EMT-1 (Intermediate) status
without him," said Clcgg. "He's an authority figure to
volunteers. They believe him. They trust him."
AFTER A LONG DAY at work, Doug Ledgett
addresses Brunswick County Commissioners on
details of the 911 program.
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