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EMS headquarters has new home

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Move 2 weeks ago puts EMS in former Schwann building on Old Seven Mile Pike

By Lisa King

More space, better facilities and quicker access to Shelby’s outlying communities via I-64 – all reasons why Emergency Medical Services personnel are thrilled with their new headquarters they moved into two weeks ago, officials say.

“The bays and all the ambulances and equipment is kept in the same building and we have more room for office space and classroom training facilities, as well as storage space; it’s great,” said EMS Director Todd Early.

The new building is located on 5.5 acres at 101 Old Seven Mile Pike, the site of the former Schwann Food Service building the county purchased last year for $650,000, after deciding that EMS had outgrown its longtime location on Hospital Drive in Shelbyville.

The county will pay for the facility with a 15-year variable interest loan, with a starting interest rate of 4.6 percent, and the now vacated building on Hospital Drive will be sold to help pay off the loan even more quickly.

Early said the whole experience has very exciting, but the best thing for crews has been knowing that they are answering ambulance calls more quickly because of the move.

“You don’t have to walk all the way across the parking lot to get into an ambulance in another building; our responses are quicker and easier,” he said.

Early said that being closer to I-64 is also advantageous.

“Definitely, the close proximity to the interstate is a plus, we are close to the Shelby County exits, so we’ve got good access there and we are closer to places like Bagdad,” he said. “It pulls us out of the center of the city a little bit, and gives us a lot more access.”

The new headquarters will house the same number of personnel as before, with four people comprising two ambulance crews, as well as a deputy chief and the chief administrative assistant.

“We had a kitchen and a community bunk room, before, but now we have individualized sleeping quarters, and a much better kitchen,” Early said. “Also, now we have meeting space, for CPR classes and things like that, and it’s partitioned to where the public can safely come in the building and not be it the way of ambulances or anything like that.”

The renovation of the Schwan’s building took so long – more than a year – because it was a lot of work to convert what was basically a giant refrigeration facility to usable space, Early said, adding that the work proceeded far more quickly after they sold the building’s giant cooler.

“We had to take the cooler out from under the building; that was the hardest thing about the renovation,” he said. “We finally sold it to a refrigeration company in Iowa, so we were really fortunate to have that company come in and help us with that [removal].”

The new station would maintain the number of EMS stations functioning in the county at three, including two other stations in Simpsonville and at Peytona.