The sound of ambulance sirens coming from Furnace Street may be silenced by the end of August.
Plans for Southwest Health’s new EMS building are in the works, with construction set to begin in early spring, with construction set to be completed by Aug. 31.
The building will be off a service road to the west of the northwest corner of the hospital’s employee parking lot. It will include a community room, a day room, offices, men’s and women’s locker rooms and dorm rooms.
The building has space for six vehicles. The building is not designed with drive-thru garage spaces, though the back doors could be added later.
The building’s architect is River Valley Architects of Chippewa Falls. The general contractor is Market & Johnson Inc. of Eau Claire. The project is estimated at almost $1.53 million.
Asked at the Jan. 26 Platteville Common Council meeting by District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian whether the building would be tornado-resistant, Southwest Health Director of Emergency Medical Services Brian Allen said the garage would be built of the concrete and the rest of the building would be built with structural steel.
“They’re aware of our tornadoes,” said Allen.
The new EMS building is part of Southwest Health’s takeover of the former Platteville EMS, which became official Sept. 27, four months after the Platteville Common Council approved the transfer, followed by the towns that were part of the former Platteville EMS district.
Allen said full-time/part-time service would begin Sunday. Full-time staffing requires eight full-time employees and 24 part-time employees to staff two ambulances.
Southwest Health will file a feasibility study with the state to convert to paramedic service, with a date set after state approval. Allen said four EMTs are in paramedic classes, three at Madison College, the other at the University of Iowa.
Allen said 14 of 26 who were invited to apply from Platteville EMS are now with Southwest Health EMS.
“There are some that were not brought on, and others chose not to come on,” he said.
The city, which paid about 77 percent of Platteville EMS costs, and the towns that signed the agreement — the Grant County towns of Ellenboro, Harrison, Lima and Smelser, and the Lafayette County towns of Belmont and Elk Grove — agreed in the transfer to Southwest Health to pay a total of $100,000 this year, and up to 75 percent of costs thereafter, with limits — up to $150,000 in 2017, and from $130,000 to $150,000 per year between 2018 and 2024. Annual reimbursement could increase annually by the Consumer Price Index from 2025 to 2034 at Southwest Health’s discretion.
Allen said Platteville EMS and Southwest Health EMS combined for 1,311 calls last year, 12.5 percent more than in 2014.