The search for new West Side Community Ambulance crew quarters in Newman has turned up a second potential location.
Ambulance board President Dennis Brazil said that even as negotiations continue for the possible acquisition of a former medical office at 1040 Merced St., the West Side Community Healthcare District (which operates the ambulance) is exploring the feasibility leasing the Lucas Real Estate office at 531 Hills Ferry Road for crew quarters.
“We are talking to both parties,” said Brazil.
He said that in many regards the real estate office appears to have advantages, but cautioned that the district is still conducting its due diligence on the property.
West Side currently houses both its on-duty crews at the former West Side Community Hospital building on Highway 33 between Gustine and Newman - although one crew is posted into Newman 12 hours a day to improve response time compliance.
The district’s intent is to provide full-time quarters for both crews in Newman.
Both properties would require some renovation, Brazil said, but one advantage of the real estate office property is that it has a five-bay garage.
Michael Courtney, director of ambulance operations, agreed that the real estate office location offers a number of advantages.
“With the egress from that area we can go three different directions right out of the chute and it is not directly in the middle of a neighborhood,” he commented. “The other nice thing is that there is a lot of parking and there are bays for the ambulances so they can stay under cover, which really helps with the maintenance.”
Brazil said the zoning is being checked to determine the feasibility of using the Hills Ferry site as a base for ambulance operations, and the district is investigating the cost of remodeling the building.
“There is some homework to do before we can make a decision,” he stated. “We want to make sure the city is in agreement with that location.”
If West Side does lease the real estate building, Brazil said, the plan would be to bring in a temporary trailer to house one ambulance crew during remodeling while the second stayed at the current quarters.
When the remodel was complete, both on-duty crews would occupy the quarters.
That would alleviate the current situation in which one West Side crew is posting in Newman 12 hours a day but does not have quarters.
The district explored temporary quarters so those crews would not have to post in their vehicles, Brazil said, but found no suitable location.
“We have been trying to find something temporary so that they don’t have to sit at Nob Hill. When we looked around town to even rent a house for a few months, none of it was really a good fit,” he explained.
Brazil said he would like to see a decision reached on new quarters in the very near future, and did not rule out calling a special board meeting to expedite the process if the district reaches a point where a decision can be reached.