Personnel hired to run western Rowan ambulance station, building set to be done by July
CLEVELAND — All six personnel for the western Rowan County ambulance station started work earlier this week and the county hopes to have them based in Cleveland by July.
Lennie Cooper, the county’s emergency services division chief, said the staff will complete classroom training before hitting the roads to get familiarized with the county.
“We will begin providing service with an ambulance running out of Salisbury to address the west Rowan need Jan. 15,” he said.
Cooper said when an ambulance from the Hurley School Road station goes out on a call, a truck from a Salisbury station will be moved to fill that void.
County EMS Director Frank Thomason said if an ambulance from Hurley School Road goes to a call now and another one comes in from the western part of the county, a truck from the either the Innes Street or Old Concord Road has to respond.
“If we move them to that Hurley School Road location, they are going to be at least that drive time closer,” he said.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners agreed to a partnership with the Cleveland Fire Department to provide an ambulance station to the western part of the county in September. The six-month budget for the new station is $576,703 and that includes $178,343 in personnel costs.
Thomason told the board response times to that part of the county could take up to 12 minutes, which is above the national goal of nine minutes.
Earlier this week, Mayor Pro Tem Danny Gabriel told the Cleveland Board of Commissioners the town’s fire department responded to 358 calls last year, with 200 of those being within the town limits.
The long-term plan is for the department to construct a new fire station in about five years that would include permanent quarters for the EMS.
Thomason said until that happens, the station will operate out of a modular unit, which is set to be bid for construction soon.
“My goal is to make sure we’re in there before the first of July, which seems like a long time, but it will take 90 days to build the structure, plus site preparation and the other considerations that go with it,” he said. “If we can get it done earlier, all the better.
“We’ll really see a difference in response times when we get moved on site to Cleveland.”
Thomason said he’s “extremely excited” about the project.
“It’s been put off for several years due to budget constraints,” he said. “I think the Board of Commissioners certainly see the need and had the opportunity to make it happen.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.