The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 16, 2013

Edgecombe Rescue names new chief

The Daily Southerner
Calvin Adkins

TARBORO — Andrew Coccaro said he was destined to be involved in emergency service in some form of fashion. What he didn’t know was that the involvement was going to lead him to Edgecombe County.

After spending 16 years in the field, Coccaro was recently named the new Edgecombe County Rescue Squad chief of operations. The 32-year old Johnston County native replaces interim chief Chad Eason. Before taking the position, Coccaro was the shift supervisor at Johnston County Rescue.

For half of his life, rescue service has been a part of his life. He started when he was 16 as a volunteer. Since then, he has climbed the ranks of basic EMT to the top as an critical care paramedic.

So far, Coccaro’s transition to his new job and county has been a pleasant experience.

“Chad did an outstanding job before I came along,” Coccaro said. “Because of his knowledge, he helped make my transition easier. It could have been harder because when you go into a new position, you don’t know what the staff expects of you and you don’t know what to expect from the staff. I feel like I have a good support system and that will improve our operation in a short period of time.

“I’m excited to be here and improve on the things that needs improving. That’s our goal,”

Coccaro has already implemented training and equipment he said he believes help save the lives of six cardiac patients. The old method was for rescue workers to transport the patient to the hospital for treatment while the new method allows trained staff to administer aid on-site.

“I want people to know, rescue service is not like it used to be in the good old days,” he said. “We are able to do a lot more than people realize.

Coccaro harped on “providing the top level of care” for Edgecombe County citizens with a shoestring budget of just less than $1 million. He explained that the rising cost of health care makes it difficult for a small rescue operation to keep up with up-to-date equipment and training. Despite that, he said his department will not be cutting any corners.

“We don’t have the budget that Wake County or other larger counties have,” he said. “But we’re not going to cut services because of that. We will provide excellent service for the people who need it.”

The chief’s position is fairly new. It became available when Edgecombe County consolidated its four (Pinetops, Whitaker, Tarboro, West Edgecombe) rescue squad operations into one. West Edgecombe Rescue was the most recent consolidation. Coccaro said with that area alone, the calls increased to about 4,000 per year. Including the West Edgecombe Rescue, Coccaro is in charge of the operations of four stations. Before the consolidation, each entity was in charge of its own operation.

Coccaro likes the consolidation. He said it assures that the county’s residents are receiving the same type of service and only one entity will be held accountable. Last year, all four stations responded to an estimated 13,000 calls.