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Ambulance board wants to build new EMS station

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By Kenny Colston

The Oldham County Ambulance Taxing District is looking to build a new substation for Oldham County EMS. They just don’t know where yet.

Members of the taxing district’s board looked at several potential substation sites on and around the Baptist Health La Grange campus last week. Baptist Health manages the county EMS in a partnership with the taxing district.

The EMS needs a permanent station after moving out of the old La Grange Fire Department’s building on Main Street. The ambulances currently sit outside, which is a problem for the county EMS, board member Stan Clark said.

“We need a place to keep the ambulances out of the weather,” he said.

Board members Jim Craman, Steve Turover, Tom Clark and Stan Clark toured the possible sites with Mel Milburn, a civil engineer, and Joey Burnett, an engineer with Baptist Health. Board member Joe Schiess was unable to make the meeting.

The board toured several sites, starting with an open field behind the current BaptistWorx and EMS temporary station on Sanibel Way. At that location, the station could have a driveway to Crimson Way, behind Walmart, but Melburn said there could be issues with getting necessary utilities in. The site is currently an overgrown field that Baptist Health owns. It was labeled as the Sanibel site.

The second site, named emergency, sits just to the right of the Sanibel site and southwest of the hospital’s emergency entrance. Board members raised an issue of possible flooding or trouble with ambulances coming up a steep slope to exit the station, as the second site sits 10 to 15 feet below the other surfaces at the hospital.

A third potential site was south of the hospital’s heliport, but also presents concerns about the drop-off from the surface in inclement weather.

A fourth site considered is either the lower employees lot or a closer lot on the physician’s side of the hospital’s campus. But an issue was raised about several other parking lots dumping into one main area, creating a logjam for ambulances trying to exit the complex.

The final site is a field off New Moody Lane, just past the hospital complex. At that site, ambulances would have their own drive and wouldn’t have to work through the hospital’s parking lots to get to New Moody Lane. It could also have a back drive to connect to the hospital’s emergency entrance if needed.

The site evaluations were just preliminary work for a process that could take roughly a year, Stan Clark said.

In addition to concerns about the ambulances sitting in the elements, Stan Clark said they also need a permanent spot south of the railroad tracks that pass through downtown La Grange.

“It’s a prime spot,” he said. “A lot of our runs end here and begin here, it’s an ideal area to be in.”

Board members said research showed that with the amount of trains coming through the city, it could be up to four hours that ambulances could be unable to cross the tracks on a run daily.

The next steps will be to evaluate each of the five sites for utilities and costs, Stan Clark said. If none of the five works, other options will be considered.

“If this gets expensive we’ll look somewhere else,” he said.

The goal is to build a substation that will last for a decade or more, Stan Clark said, but the process is still in the early stages.

“It’s too soon to say what site we’ll pick,” he said.

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.