Significant progress has been made on a new Sebastian County EMS facility that is coming to Greenwood.
Sebastian County Judge David Hudson said Tuesday the architect for the project, Studio 6 Architects, projects construction is 55 percent complete at this time, and the project is on schedule for the contracted completion date of June 28.
Much of the facility is currently in the dry to allow construction to proceed in bad weather, Hudson said. Garage doors, windows and doors are being installed, and sheetrock is beginning to be installed for interior walls.
Jeff Turner, assistant county administrator for public safety, said Petree Construction is the general contractor for the project. Construction began Aug. 1. The new facility will be just to the south of the current EMS facility at 205 S. Coker St. in Greenwood.
Hudson said if one looks at the history of the Sebastian County EMS, it has been expanded to include an additional full-time crew working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The fleet of ambulances has also doubled.
"So there's more personnel working, and there are more units being maintained and housed, and so the existing facilities just were not sufficient for the scope of the operation," Hudson said. "And this will allow the equipment to be more efficiently and effectively maintained in a garage environment that is designed to support how paramedic ambulances function, including taking care of the units whenever they're not in operation and restocking them."
Turner said Sebastian County EMS currently does not have a place to decontaminate its equipment in a safe manner. The facility that is being built will have a room that is set aside for this, among other new features.
"Some of it is our medical storage where it's located now just doesn't fit the ability for us to move it quickly and easily to the units, so the medical equipment will be right there next to the bays where we can open a door and bring it out, so we can stock our ambulances faster and, you know, just more efficient," Turner said.
Turner said a safe room will also be available that is not present in the current facility.
"When the paramedics are there, they can't leave and go home with their families," Turner said. "They still have to stay at work, so we're giving them a location in case of bad weather that they can bunker down and be safe."
The original facility, which was built in 1978, was not designed to be a 24-hour station, Turner said.
"It was a combination ambulance service senior citizens center," Turner said. "The ambulance service was upstairs, and the senior citizens was downstairs, and so, when the senior citizens moved, we took over the rest of the building. That's when it was remodeled for that purpose, but a lot of it has to do with the flow of the building and how you move from one place to the other to get to your ambulance. ... Right now, the decontamination and the showers (are) the furthest away from the ambulance. It needs to be next to the ambulance, where you can get the stuff off of you first before you traipse it through the ambulance service."
Hudson said the current facility will continue to be used after the new facility is completed.
The budget for this new facility construction project is more than $1.9 million, Hudson said. The project was funded by capital reserve county sales tax funds.