Proposed new ambulance headquarters to be more efficient

Posted:  Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - 7:00am

The proposed new ambulance building in Boothbay, being paid for through a $1.65 million donation by Paul Coulombe of Southport, will be twice the size of the current Boothbay Region Ambulance Service headquarters and will be much more efficient.

On a recent Saturday morning, Coulombe sat down with Knickerbocker Group owner Steve Malcom, BRAS representatives, Chairman Rob Ham and Director of Operations Scott Lash, and the newspaper to discuss the new ambulance building and BRAS operations.

Ham explained that the current headquarters was built through fundraising and donations and that not many upgrades have been done to the building. He also said that because of other costs, BRAS has not been able to set up a building maintenance/capital reserve fund.

Malcom explained that the new ambulance building, designed by Knickerbocker Group, will be 7,644 square feet, include much more office and training space and be able to house all four BRAS ambulances. The ambulance bays will be heated, contain an exhaust system (the current building does not have one) and the drainage in the bays will be much more efficient.

"We have to squeegee the water, coming off the ambulances after returning from a rain or snow storm, down the drains right now," said Lash. "It gets pretty slippery in the bays when the water freezes."

Lash also explained that the current building is too small when crew members want to rest during down time while others are training or watching TV.

"Our resting quarters are compact and if we have males and females wanting to rest in private, we don't have the space. This new building will provide that," said Lash. The new building would have a dedicated training area and adequate housing for the four-person staffs during their 24-hour shifts.

Ham said the position of the new building (a few feet south of the current building) and the proposed new exits will be beneficial for ambulance drivers.

"Right now, getting out onto Route 27 is not easy," said Ham. "I do think the proposed roundabout will make it easier and the exit near the top of the hill will provide a better response time."

Malcom said the fairly new boiler in the current building will be used in the new building.

"We're going to use what we can from the current building in the new building," said Malcom.

"We need to set up an endowment fund like other organizations in the region," said Lash. "Although we've been somewhat successful with our fundraising, it hasn't provided us with enough to maintain our building and ambulances." Lash said it costs approximately $220,000 to replace a fully outfitted ambulance.

Coulombe said he would assist BRAS "any way I can" with setting up an endowment fund.

Ham said he would like to somehow honor the area people and organizations who helped build the current building, by erecting a plaque in the new building.

"The building was built for $400,000. Mr. Wheeler donated the land and through fundraising, private donations and area contractors donating their time, it got built," said Ham. "I would like to honor that work somehow."

"I liken this situation to a family outgrowing its home," said Lash. "Our family has grown and the old home just can't handle its needs."