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Delaware County did not always have the leading emergency medical services that it has today.  In fact, calls for medical assistance were answered by the local funeral homes until February of 1972.  

In 1966, the National Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a document that gave rise to the first national effort to build an EMS system, "Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society."  For an excellent summarized history of the birth of EMS that was produced by the American Ambulance Association (AAA), and how "prehospital" medicine was born, click here!  Due to the changes in federal regulations that followed, the funeral homes in the area discontinued the service and Delaware County assumed the responsibility through the Sheriff's Department until April of 1978.  By that time, the Sheriff's Office was receiving too many calls and couldn't keep up with both the medical and law enforcement demand.  The County Commissioners met with all of the county's different township administrations, and the result was the need to accept the responsibility of providing Countywide EMS, with the exception of Liberty Township and the city of Delaware.

Delaware County EMS was placed in service as an independent agency on April 2, 1978 to provide full-time emergency medical care to the residents of Delaware County.  DCEMS originally began with twenty two employees and two ambulances providing basic life support care. Just a few years later, the General Assembly authorized advanced life support care, and the County sent five members to Paramedic school almost immediately.  They were Don Witt, Mike Evans, Marty Selvage, Steve Breece and Tim Pickering.  

Today the system responds to over 6,000 calls annually in a 459 square mile service area, has grown to 110 full-time employees, with all but a few being Paramedics, approximately 25 to 30 part-time staff and ten advanced life support transport ambulances.  This is supplemented by two Quick Response Captain's vehicles. We still contract with two of the County's 13 fire departments, Liberty Township and the City of Delaware, to provide EMS in their own jurisdictions.  We are an emergency only service, and provide no "private" scheduled transports.

As the primary emergency medical provider for the 160,000 residents of Delaware County, DCEMS is a professional agency operated by the Delaware County Board of Commissioners. The leadership team consists of the Chief, who is the Department’s Executive Officer, an Assistant Chief and a staff of six Captains, who oversee the daily operations as field supervisors.  Click on Admin & Command Staff to learn more about what each of them bring to the leadership of the department.

Over the years there have been five previous Chiefs.  They are:

  • Ed Dick, from 1972 to 1981

  • Don Witt, from 1981 to 1985

  • Dick Harter, from 1985 to 1986

  • Ed Dick, (again) from 1986 to 1990

  • Pearline Howald, from 1990 to 2004

  • Rob Farmer, from 2004 to 2013

  • Michael Schuiling, from 2013 to present

The department staff is structured into three 24 hour shifts.  Each shift’s team consists of the two Captains who are responsible for all daily operations and a Lieutenant for each of ten ALS crews, each responsible for the direct operational and clinical oversight of individual emergency scenes.  The goal of DCEMS is to provide quality emergency medical service.  In an effort to achieve this goal, we strive to locate our stations in strategic areas of the county to provide service within 5 to 8 minutes of a call for assistance.  To find the station closest to your home, check our County Map.

It is important to recognize that Delaware County EMS is operated out of the County's General Fund.  We do not subsidize our services by asking Delaware County homeowners to vote for additional taxes based on their property values.  As the County grows, our department will naturally grow, too, to serve the County's needs.  With an agreement reached in 1972 when our organization first started, our funding is set in a fashion that allows us to grow with the County.  In addition, we own all of our stand alone stations, except one, which we lease for $1.00 per year.  In the townships where we cohabitate in the fire stations, we typically have an annual "rental agreement" for use of living space and use of utilities.

For any additional questions regarding our history or our strategic plans, please contact the Chief's office


Delaware County EMS
, 10 Court Street, Ground Floor, Delaware, Ohio 43015
740-833-2190 office | 740-833-2189 fax
(c) 2009 Delaware County Emergency Services & Delaware County Board of Commissioners - Questions, Comments, Concerns, contact