McMinn plans 3 rd ambulance site

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Dec 19, 2002
West of the Muddy Creek, East of the Big Hill.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Chattanooga Times Free Press

McMinn plans 3 rd ambulance site

By Ron Clayton Correspondent

RICEVILLE, Tenn. — McMinn County leaders are seeking to open a new ambulance station in Riceville to broaden services and reduce response times.

The new ambulance station would be built at the Riceville Fire Department and would be the county’s third station, officials said.

The ambulance service is operated by the county-owned Woods Memorial Hospital. Hospital spokesman David Hill said planning has been going on "for some time, looking at how we can do this."

County Mayor John Gentry said the station will have benefits beyond Riceville.

"It will actually cut response times to South Athens," Mr. Gentry said.

There is an existing ambulance station in North Athens, but emergency crews responding to a call in the southern part of town have to slow at many traffic lights, he said.

An ambulance coming from Riceville "has a straight shot" to the southern part of Athens, Mr. Gentry said.

The second ambulance station, in Etowah, covers the eastern part of McMinn County.

The new station would be built in an extra bay at the Riceville Fire Department. Costs would be minimal to construct a sleeping and eating area for ambulance crews at the rear of the building, officials said.

Three crews of two would be hired.

McMinn County Ambulance Service Director Brian Teague said the county’s population has grown to more than 50,000, and the ambulance service makes 5,500 to 5,800 runs a year.

He said the service is required by contract to have one ambulance in Etowah and two in Athens on 24-hour service.

He said adding a station would mean another unit be put into 24-hour service.

Mr. Hill said the county also is looking at replacing both its existing stations.

Mr. Gentry said studies are being done to determine whether the two existing stations are properly located or should be rebuilt.

County Planner Russell Thress is designing the new station, and county officials said they it can be ready for service by this fall.

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