Berkeley County hires Wendy Lee as new EMS chief
Thirty-three years of dedicated public service coupled with a passion for EMS has lead Wendy Lee to the position of chief of Berkeley County Emergency Services. She officially began serving in the position on Sept. 9.
Lee looks forward to building a professional, polished team, providing them with the tools they need to do the job every day, encouraging harmony in the department, and being fiscally responsible while providing top-notch clinical care. She will oversee 88 employees in 10 Berkeley County stations (with three additional units that roam depending on demand), including the Daniel Island station, located in the City of Charleston Public Safety Building on Seven Farms Drive. The Daniel Island team, which rotates three shifts and has six employees per shift, responded to 554 calls for service during the past calendar year; 32 percent were non-transports and 68 percent were transports.
According to Hannah Moldenhauer, Berkeley County public information officer, Lee brings “decades of experience in emergency services, beginning her career in EMS in 1986.” Prior to coming to Berkeley County, Lee served as the deputy director of Dorchester County EMS for 13 years. She has a master’s degree in leadership and a bachelor’s degree in health service administration. Lee has also been an EMT program instructor for Trident Technical College and has served on the Lowcountry Regional EMS Council for more than 20 years. Additionally, she received recognition as the Lowcountry Regional EMS Paramedic Champion five times in her career, and was the South Carolina State Paramedic Champion in 2000. She was also recognized as the Dorchester County EMS Paramedic of the Year in 1995 and 2001.
Her new role comes with challenges. With the development of Nexton in Summerville and the addition of the Volvo plant, which is bringing in nearly 4,000 new hires to the area, Berkeley County is experiencing an explosion of growth. The EMS department has to look for opportunities to expand with the area to meet the emergency needs of the community. A nationwide EMS shortage has also impacted the county, along with every other county in South Carolina. The South Carolina EMS Association has created a task force to address the issues and will recommend improvements in recruitment and retention. Locally, Trident Technical College is offering students free tuition for EMS training and certification. Lee said that she would work to make the system more attractive. She’ll provide an environment that supports employees, give them the tools to make the job easier, keep up with growth so that current teams are not overtaxed, and will promote the EMS industry in schools.
The new chief described developments on the horizon for the EMS industry.
“There are tons of changes coming, from medicine to technology. We have to make sure folks are trained at the highest level,” noted Lee.
EMS professionals can now provide higher levels of life saving care for patients suffering from strokes and cardiac issues. They are also able to provide more pediatric care. Advanced mapping systems will assist with road safety and response time. Teams receive in-service training every month, as well as specialized training in areas such as hazardous material handling. Cooperative training with fire departments helps build relationships with all first responders and online training and conference opportunities are also available.
Lee serves on many boards and committees, including the community civic group at the Summerville Kiwanis Club, Dorchester County Grievance Committee, chairman of the Dorchester County LEPC, Summerville Medical Center Community Advisory Committee, vice chairman of the Lowcountry Regional EMS Board, and treasurer of the South Carolina EMS Association at the state level.