PAOLA — Miami County Emergency Medical Services marked its 30th year in operation in June with the completion of a remodeled and expanded EMS Station No. 1.

Miami County EMS hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, June 29, and provided the public with tours of the station, which is located at 32765 Clover Drive.

At the open house, Miami County Commission Chair Phil Dixon recalled a tour he and Commissioner Rob Roberts took about two years prior of the facility which was so cramped four people were sleeping in a room where their beds nearly touched. The kitchen and eating area was just as cramped.

Dixon said he and Roberts told fellow commissioners about the deteriorated conditions of the EMS station, where one of the walls in the day room moved every time there was a stiff breeze.

In the remodeled station, each EMS staff member has their own sleeping quarters during a shift. The building features an expanded kitchen and dining area, a new day room, an exercise room, new locker and bathroom facilities, a larger storage room for supplies, another ambulance bay and many other new features.

The contractor was Rob George, owner of Legacy Contractors LLC of Paola, and the architect was Richard Zingre of Fort Scott.

On the heels of the open house in June, county commissioners voted 5-0 on July 3 to approve a lease agreement for an ambulance station on Old Kansas City Road at Hillsdale, starting Jan. 1, 2020, in an attempt to alleviate a shortage of available units while also beefing up service in the fastest growing area of the county.

“We have a term we use called ‘status zero,’ and that’s when we have no ambulance in the county,” EMS Chief David Ediger said.

The county’s three ambulances frequently are making transfers to out-of-county medical facilities which can create the potential for status zero. The ambulances are positioned between two stations, the primary location on Clover Drive south of Paola, and a second location in the Fire Department building on Metcalf Road at Louisburg where one ambulance is housed.

When the service began in 1989, EMS handled 732 calls that first year. In 2018, EMS handled 3,553 calls, with 2,460 resulting in transfers, Ediger said.

The lease agreement with Klaasmeyer, LLC begins Jan. 1, 2020, and includes a two-bedroom apartment and a garage for another ambulance at 25606 Old Kansas City Road for a cost of $2,640 per month.

“We are looking forward to having another ambulance,” Ediger said. “We need to be placing an ambulance in the north-central part of the county. We want to be prepared for what the future looks like.”

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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