SLCAD to open second station in Huntington

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File photo
Paramedics carry a patient after a 2017 crash. The South Lorain County Ambulance District aims to improve its emergency response times by opening a second station in Huntington Township.

JASON HAWK
EDITOR

Opening a 12-hour-per-day satellite station is expected to help South Lorain County Ambulance District trucks reach patients in Huntington and Rochester far more quickly.

Even with lights and sirens on, it can take an agonizing 15 minutes for paramedics to travel from SLCAD’s headquarters on East Herrick Avenue in Wellington to emergencies near the border of Lorain and Ashland counties, said Butch Holmes.

“For them to get here in three to five minutes versus 10 to 12 is a big thing,” he said.

Holmes serves as both president of the ambulance district board and a trustee in Huntington Township, where there are roughly 1,400 people. He said township residents are excited about having EMTs stationed much closer.

Much of their concern now lies with trains, which he said periodically block ambulances heading south out of Wellington.

SLCAD plans to convert a portion of the Huntington Township recycling building into a second station, operating from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Some of the building will still be used by the township for recycling and storage, said Holmes.

“We’re not losing that much room,” he said.

Located at the corner of routes 58 and 162, the satellite station will include an ambulance bay and office space.

It’s expected to be staffed late this year or in early 2020.

The district has pledged to operate the second station without asking for a tax increase.

The decision to add a station was driven by a huge increase in calls for help, according to ambulance district director Skip Gentry.

In just two years, we’re looking at a projected 35 percent increase in calls,” he said. “We have to do something. Our district covers 125 square miles, the second largest in the state. It can take up to 15 minutes to respond to calls from Wellington to Rochester.”

Crews responded to 1,217 calls in 2017 and 1,439 last year. The number is on pace to top 1,800 this year, according to Gentry.

There’s no one reason for the increase, he said. But there’s no denying the southern part of the county is attracting more residents, which means more medical emergencies and crashes.

The population swells even more on summer weekends when campers flock to Findley State Park, Clare Mar Lakes, and Rustic Lakes, said Gentry.

SLCAD will maintain staffing levels around the clock at its Wellington station. That facility, which opened in 2002, is more than twice as big than the previous station was next door.

Both Holmes and Gentry said they plan to eventually build a second ambulance facility in Huntington Township.

SLCAD has grown in sophistication over the past two years through training, said Gentry.

Today, through the hard work and dedication of the medical crews, we’re offering one of the most advanced medical protocols in the United States, he said. “As a result, we’re providing residents of the district with state-of-the-art emergency medical services.”