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New ambulance barn- mostly ready for business

HUERFANO — Sherry Mann, Director of Emergency Medical Services for Huerfano County, is very happy with their new facility on Main Street in Walsenburg. The existing building has been renovated to provide an efficient facility with room for activities and a comfortable living space. Training is ongoing and necessary for EMT responders. They need to maintain their skills and certifications and are required to do at least 75 hours of training every two years to meet this requirement. They now have a large classroom which can also be used as a meeting room. Audiovisual equipment is also available for use in trainings and meetings. The new facility also has more room for living quarters. It has five bedrooms, a laundry, showers and a locker room. The living quarters are necessary because EMTs work 24-hour shifts and sometimes work two or three shifts in a row. In their last quarters, they had to sleep on couches or in chairs. They also have a kitchen for preparing meals and a day room for studying and spending free time. There is a full basement that will become an

exercise room in the future; they currently have this equipment on the main floor. Keeping fit is very important for these active responders and it will help reduce injuries. Some items still need to be finished. Some areas do not have heat yet and the apparatus room has a diesel exhaust system that needs to be completed. The diesel fumes are dangerous and must be removed for the health of the members. In addition to providing ambulance service to a good part of the county, Huerfano County Ambulance Service provides backup to the La Veta and Cuchara area through a mutual aid agreement. They respond to more than 1,000 calls a year, including emergency response and transports. There are always four responders on duty, so two ambulances can be manned and one will have a paramedic. They also respond to accidents and are trained and equipped to extricate people from vehicles. Sherry Mann has been a member of the ambulance service for 31 years and has been director for the last nine years. She is very proud of the hard work and professionalism of the first responders. The new quarters will make life for the on-duty crews more comfortable and help them be more efficient in their work.