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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bethlehem's New EMS Center Coming to Illicks Mill Road

Bethlehem's EMS facility, currently located off Stefko Boulevard, is movin' on up. Parks and Public Property Director Ralph Carp unveiled plans for a new center located behind the ice rink on Illicks Mill Road, at a meeting of the Planning Commission on January 13. "It's not real fancy in appearance," explained Carp. But even a pole building with metal siding and roof will have a $1.25 million price tag. Carp anticipates completion sometime this Fall.

EMS Director Gordon Smith told planners his department responded to over 10,500 calls last year. His staff has grown to 25 full-time and 30 part-time paramedics, and 4 of his 7 ambulances must sit outside because there are only 3 bays. "We outgrew our current facility years ago," he exounded. Carp added that each ambulance carries temperature-sensitive drugs and should be stored indoors. The Illicks Mill center will solve that problem with 5 bays, each of them 2 vehicles deep.

Planner Jim Fiorentino questioned the wisdom of placing an ambulance center near an ice rink, pool and tennis courts, but was assured there would be a separate driveway for emergency vehicles.

South Side resident Jack Abel expressed some concern that response times will increase, particularly to events at the new Artsquest center. Smith told Abel that current response times are 6.5 to 7 minutes. From the new site, average response time should be 7 minutes, well under the industry standard of 10 minutes. He also added that 50% of their calls occur when they are already out on the road.

Resident Al Bernotas asked about warning signs on Illicks Mill Road, and Smith responded that he has requested flashing signs.

With a larger facility, Smith hopes to get state funding for a mass casualty trailer. "We certainly could use something like that in this area because we are a high urban area with a lot of different events having the potential of mass casualty," he said.

This project was originally funded by a $6 million line-of-credit approved by City Council late last year, but Mayor John Callahan's administration diverted the money to pay for employee benefits. Unwilling to borrow the same money twice, City Council imposed a 5.3% tax hike to cover the cost of this new ambulance center. Smith told planners that it will serve City needs for at least the next 20 years.


Anonymous said...

an accident just found a place to happen. not saying the new place isn't needed, but it will be in a very heavy traffic area. lots of cars, lots of kids

Anonymous said...

Just what is not needed across the street from the golf course.

Play is slow enough as is and now when the sirens are a howling, golfers need to stop, listen and wait for their next shank shot...