Former Red Cross building is being retrofitted and will help EMS provide better coverage in Lakewood Ranch.
By end of summer, Manatee County Emergency Medical Services is expected to open its new EMS station in the former American Red Cross building, located on Malachite Drive in Lakewood Ranch.
Manatee County commissioners approved the $648,620 purchase Dec. 18, 2018, and the
transaction closed Jan. 25. On March 12, commissioners took the last step, accepting the special warranty deed for the 1.25-acre property at 10311 Malachite Drive, Lakewood Ranch, and entering it into the board records.
Officials anticipate the 6,539-square-foot hurricane-hardened building could be ready as early as May or June.
“It’s a little bit of a moving target,” said Larry Luh, assistant chief of operations for Manatee County’s Emergency Medical Services Division. “It depends on what they have to do to retrofit it. I know we’ll definitely be in there before school starts (in August).”
Currently, EMS rents space at three East Manatee Fire Rescue stations — Station 2 at 803 60th St. Court E., Station 5 at 15015 59th Ave. E., and Station 6 at 8800 E. State Road 70.
Generally, EMS uses bay space for its ambulances and space for crews to sleep and complete paperwork. Paramedics and firefighters share the “day room,” where crews relax and prepare meals. Rent is $1,000 per month at Stations 5 and 6 and $1,500 per month at Station 2.
Only Station 5 was built specifically to accommodate EMS crews, East Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Lee Whitehurst said.
EMS will continue to lease space at Station 2 and move paramedics from the other stations to the building on Malachite. Luh said the Malachite building will be adapted to EMS’ specific needs. The firehouses have served an important role in housing EMS units, but they are not always designed with EMS in mind.
“If you go back over time, (the fire districts) are growing and expanding for their needs. Sometimes their footprint isn’t a part of us,” Luh said. “As they’re expanding, there are times where our units have to be relocated outside, or don’t have accommodations for new hires.”
Emergency Medical Services Chief Paul DiCicco said the facility offers a strategic placement of emergency response resources as the community grows and also will improve response times to the Rosedale Golf and Country Club community.
Luh also said having a more centralized East County presence for EMS units will allow it to offer staff trainings in East County rather than having paramedics travel to the Public Safety Complex, at 2101 47th Terrace E., Bradenton.