Church Hill EMS has stationed an ambulance in Mount Carmel for years, but only recently did it open the doors to its own Mount Carmel station.
Church Hill EMS Station 2 is located on a small tract of land adjacent to Mount Carmel’s police station, fire hall and maintenance department on Hammond Avenue just north of Main Street past the railroad underpass.
Church Hill EMS board of directors president Fred Arnold said Thursday construction of the new station was a milestone for the ambulance service. Although the EMS has three stations including the ones in Church Hill and Kingsport, this is the first station in which the service actually owns its building — a 2,100-square-foot two-bay station that was built from scratch.
The property belongs to the town of Mount Carmel but was leased to Church Hill EMS for $1 per year for 50 years.
The new station was a big benefit to both the town and the EMS, and resolved a complicated sleeping situation.
Before the station was built, there were two sleep rooms in the fire department, one for the EMS and one for the firefighters, but no separation for males and females. The new EMS station has both male and female sleeping quarters, and now the fire department has two sleep rooms as well for its male and female firefighters who spend the night.
“The board of directors identified a few years ago some things as far as our employees’ living conditions,” Arnold said. “They stay here 24 hours at a time — it’s basically a home away from home — and we needed more space for them. We actually put private bedrooms for males and females, private bathrooms for males and females, and that was something we didn’t have in the fire department.
“Our employees were in a 10-by-12 room for 24 hours, and now they actually have a kitchen, living room and bedrooms of their own.”
The new station will also accommodate future growth. Although there’s only one ambulance in Mount Carmel at this time, the new station was built with two bays in case population growth and a rise in demand calls for another ambulance or crash truck.
The Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen was very receptive to offering the EMS property for its own station because it drastically cuts down on response times to have an ambulance in town, as opposed to waiting for one dispatched from the Church Hill station. Arnold estimated that his department can have an ambulance on scene anywhere within the Mount Carmel service area within four to five minutes.
“Seconds count,” Arnold said.
Church Hill EMS hosted an official grand opening for Station 2 on June 28.
The new station was part of a modernization program started by Church Hill EMS in 2001 which initially involved updating medical equipment inside the ambulances. Phase two included construction of the Mount Carmel station.
The next project will likely be construction of a new Church Hill station, although Arnold said there’s no positive timeline for beginning that project. He said the EMS tries to stay as debt free as possible, so right now it’s saving for the project.
The Mount Carmel station cost about $200,000 to build.
“The board of directors told me to come back to them when we’ve got about half the money saved for the project and we’ll start planning,” Arnold said.