With site preparation already under way for a new Washington County/Johnson City EMS station, the agency’s director hopes construction can begin soon in Sulphur Springs.
The idea for an EMS station in Sulphur Springs isn’t a new one, but it got pushed back when the agency built the last station in Fall Branch.
“We had considered (Sulphur Springs) before we built the Fall Branch station but it so happened the land was donated in Fall Branch and we built that station,” EMS Director Allen Taylor said.
When citizens from Sulphur Springs asked their commissioners about putting in a station, Taylor said things started happening.
“We were contacted by some citizens in the Sulphur Springs area about a station down there around the crossroads,” Taylor said. A farmer, Henry Walker, donated a half-acre on Tenn. Highway 81 near the intersection with Tenn. Highway 75.
“We looked at the property and it’s a perfect location,” Taylor said.
With the location hurdle out of the way, Taylor had to find funding for the building and recurring costs to operate the station.
Initially the station will be staffed by one paramedic, but that could increase if the number of calls goes up.
“We did a three-month study recently, and if that station had been in place we would have answered 64 calls in that new zone,” Taylor said. “Sixty-four calls was a little more than I anticipated.
“That’s taking some of the calls off Rescue 4, Rescue 5 and Rescue 10. It lightens their load some and they’re pretty much covered up.”
Currently, any emergency medical call in Sulphur Springs is answered by a unit from Gray, Jonesborough or Limestone. With the new station, a unit will be dedicated to that area, which will reduce response times.
Funding — about $240,000 in construction and startup and $130,000 in recurring costs — isn’t set in stone, but Taylor is confident a final vote by the Washington County Commission will push the project forward.
The plan has already been before the Public Safety Committee and will be presented to the Budget Committee later this month.
“It will help the people there, the people in the community seem to be behind this and looking forward to it,” Taylor said.
The building also will provide space for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to have a substation for officers to use when necessary.