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Huerfano Ambulance Service should have a new home by May 2014

HUERFANO — Huerfano County officials continue progress in moving the county ambulance service from their current location near the Huerfano County Community Center to the recently purchased Ludvik Propane building, 326 Main St., Walsenburg. County administrator John Galusha said the approximately 14,000 square foot building was available and the asking price of $100,000 was seen as an opportunity for the county. The building is currently under purchase contract with the county with a closing date set for January 2, 2014. Galusha said funds for the purchase will come from a pool of money established for the ambulance barn project four years ago. The building will be home to the ambulance service’s six vehicles, and following extensive remodeling efforts, will feature six separate bedrooms for 24-hour EMT staff, a two-screen training room, two kitchenettes (one for training), a lounge or day room for staff, and possibly a by-membership fitness center. Huerfano Ambulance Service Director Sherry Mann told the Huerfano World Journal this week everyone at the service is excited about the move. The new facility will offer enough bedrooms for on duty personnel and a training room the service does not have at the current location. Mann said the ambulance service and county are shooting for a mid-May 2014 opening to take advantage of EMS week (May 18-24). “We hope we can have an open house for the public during that week,” Mann said. Currently Galusha is working on the county budget, but once that is completed he will begin negotiations with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) requesting the $160,000 Energy Impact Grant the county received for a plan that called for new construction of an ambulance barn, to be reassigned for the new project’s remodeling efforts. “Initial response (from DOLA) has been very favorable,” he said. Galusha said DOLA likes projects that utilize empty Main Street properties. With the remodeling plans still in the early stages, it is estimated about $40,000 above the Energy Impact Grant will be needed to furnish the facility and provide for some new equipment purchases. Galusha said the formal remodeling plans should be finished in the next three to four weeks. The initial plans call for using the old Fox Theatre movie screen (cut in two) to be used as the twin projector screens in the training room. Besides buying furniture, the county also plans installation of an exhaust system for the ambulance vehicle bays. He said one of the major improvements offered at the new location will be the design of six individual sleeping quarters for ambulance personnel instead of the traditional open bay quarters seen in many emergency service facilities like fire stations. This will allow on-duty personnel to go to bed whenever they like and not be disturbed by co-workers going to sleep at different times. The county plans to expand the road and bridge department into the old ambulance home near the community center. Galusha said initial plans call for a R & B tire shop and storage at the site once the ambulance service moves to the Main Street facility.