As hurricane season continues to affect North Carolina, emergency services personnel are prepared to help as needed. One of WithersRavenel’s geologists plays a vital role providing aid in Pender County.
Stan Harts, based in our Wilmington office, volunteers with Pender EMS & Fire. Stan’s specialty is communications; he often runs the dispatch center for special operations. Stan responds for swiftwater rescues or other weather-related assistance, such as during Hurricane Dorian in 2019 or Hurricane Isaias earlier this year. He also has assisted with coordinating communication for missing person cases and large community events, while also logging time as an EMT.
His passion for volunteering, specifically in emergencies, is born from experience. Stan spent 20 years working for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. While his work at UNCW on soil and air quality linked with his background in geology, Stan also had emergency management responsibilities. A Certified Safety Professional, Stan developed health and safety programs for a variety of emergency action plans. His additional background and training with amateur radio makes him the go-to guy for Pender County when traditional communications go down, or alternative methods are needed in the field for public safety emergencies.
Although volunteering in emergencies can be stressful, Stan enjoys the satisfaction of making a difference. He specifically enjoys helping assist in search and rescue situations.
“I’ll be getting communications in, logging clues and putting them on a map,” he said. While communicating with multiple rescuers in the field, Stan shares the information so searchers can zero in on missing people.
“It’s exciting when you find someone and that person is safe and OK,” he said.
Stan has also found himself helping in the back of an ambulance. In EMT situations, Stan is sometimes called “The Old Lady Whisperer.”
“Sometimes, we get to a call, and Grandma needs someone to talk to her to figure out what is wrong,” he said. “So we get in the ambulance, start talking. Often it turns out we know people, or we’re related. Then we find out she’s been off her meds for a week.”
Stan’s experience at WithersRavenel has also paid dividends in his volunteer role. Through his relationship with New Hanover County, Stan was able to get the county to agree to a temporary radio tower at the landfill site near the Pender County line. The tower can cover half of Pender County, supplementing public safety communications as needed.
But besides all the experiences, Stan emphasizes the importance of preparing for emergencies. And not to take anything, or anyone, for granted.
“You really don’t realize how quickly your life can change. It’s in the blink of an eye: a hurricane, tornado, flooding,” he said. “When I get home, I hug my kids a little harder, tell my wife I love her one more time. I’m just so grateful.”