MARSHALL - It was a long process, but it was well worth it, Dan DeSmet said.
After about two years of planning and construction, North Memorial Ambulance in Marshall has settled into a new, larger home base on A Street. The extra garage space and updated facilities will help the ambulance service better meet the community's needs, said DeSmet, regional manager of North Memorial Ambulance.
"I think a lot of people didn't know how tight space was" in the old ambulance building, DeSmet said, looking over the new five-stall ambulance garage. Indoor parking is important, because each ambulance's medical supplies and equipment need to stay heated to be ready to use.
Photo by Deb Gau
Dan DeSmet, regional manager of North Memorial Ambulance, explained some of the features of the ambulance service’s new garage in Marshall. The new facilities have much-needed space for both on-call ambulance crews and equipment, he said.
"We got in here June 1," North Memorial Ambulance Regional Supervisor Jeff Lammers said of the move. However, the first look many Marshall residents got of the new facilities came at an open house earlier this month. "It was a real fun night for us," Lammers said.
Moving to a new facility "was something we had been looking at for several years, as we continued to grow and services continued to expand," DeSmet said. The actual process of purchasing land and building the new garage and base of operations started about two years ago, he said. North Memorial Ambulance worked with a private developer to buy the property next door to the old garage, prepare the site and build the new facilities. They also worked with the city of Marshall for a zoning change to allow the new facilities, Lanners said.
"Some of the pre-development parts probably took longer," DeSmet said, but things went pretty smoothly.
Besides a larger garage, the new base also has office space for filing medical information after an ambulance call, and a kitchen and four sleeping rooms that ambulance crew members can use. For emergency medical technicians on call overnight or who may be commuting to work, it can be important to have a space to rest and eat, Lanners said.
"The new kitchen is nice," said EMT Tony Hanssen of the new building.
Another important feature of the new ambulance facility is an education and training room with teleconferencing equipment. Continuing education is vital for EMTs and paramedics, Lammers said. However, traveling to attend classes or conferences can sometimes be difficult, especially for responders in greater Minnesota. The new training room would be a big help, he said. The space and equipment can also be used by the Southwest Emergency Medical Services Association.
The ambulance service in Marshall responds to about 1,500 calls a year, Lammers said. The service employs about 20 paramedics and emergency medical technicians, with two ambulance crews on duty at all times.
North Memorial Ambulance has been serving the Marshall area since about 1997, Lammers said.
"We've come a long way" in that time, DeSmet said. The service started out with a single ambulance, and worked out of a one-room base in the Marshall municipal building, he said. As community needs grew, so did the ambulance service. Air transport crews based out of Redwood Falls were added in 2000.
"This is a great location," DeSmet said of the new building. "We work well with the fire department (next door), and we're centrally located in Marshall." That's a big asset, he said, because it helps speed up ambulance response time.
The ambulance service leases the new building from a property manager, DeSmet said. He added that because North Memorial Ambulance isn't a municipal-owned service, construction wasn't subsidized by the city. Construction of the new building hasn't meant higher rates for ambulance service either, he said.
The city of Marshall still owns the old ambulance garage, and now the Marshall Fire Department is using it for some of their equipment, Lammers said.
DeSmet said there were many people who needed to be thanked for making North Memorial Ambulance's continued service possible. None of the work of moving would have been possible without help from staff members, he said. The ambulance service also works together with other emergency responders in the Marshall region, with Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center and other area hospitals, and with the community.
"We appreciate the community's support, and we want to give back," DeSmet said.