A better place for care

Life EMS’s new Baldwin facility reaches completion

How do you thank someone in the community who helps save lives on a daily basis? According to the president of Life EMS Ambluance, providing an updated and more comfortable work environment is a good start to showing a community’s appreciation. On Aug. 15, Life EMS Ambulance — the private company Lake County contracts emergency medical services from — held an open house to display its new facility, located near the corner of U.S. 10 and M-37. “We work hard at having a real nice work environment with some of the best ambulances that you will find anywhere,” said Mark Meijer, Life EMS Ambulance president. “But in a rural operation like this, the facility is very important to the moral of the folks and helping them be ready for emergencies.” The new 4,800-square-foot facility, which was completed in June, includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, living area, supervisor’s office, two-bay garage, a training room and increased security features. The county started contracting with Life EMS Ambulance in 2001, but prior to that it had run its own EMS When it privatized its services, the county sold its ambulances and service equipment and invested the money. The money was then earmarked to be used in case the county ever decided to run its own EMS again. Once the county decided it was happy with Life EMS Ambulance’s services and wouldn’t return to running its own service, the county decided to use that money to build the $362,000 facility. “Comparatively, that is a huge value for what they have got; I’ve looked around,” said Jeff Stockhill, Life EMS Ambulance’s director of north operations. “I know of a project that is ongoing for another agency that they are spending way more for way less.” The Baldwin station used to be located across the street in the same complex as the Lake County Courthouse and sheriff’s office, but it wasn’t meeting the needs of the staff. “We offer monthly training and meetings here and we did not have a meeting room to utilize,” Stockhill said. “The building was outdated. The supervisor’s office was a closet, basically.” Since the new station has been completed, the training room has already been utilized, Stockhill added. Originally when the project started in September, it was expected to be completed in approximately five months. The project went a little beyond schedule, but everyone is satisfied and couldn’t be happier with the facility, Stockhill added. The previous facility now will be used by the sheriff’s office. The Baldwin station employs 16 full- and part-time medics and staff, although only a crew of two will be stationed there at any given time. It also is the newest Life EMS Ambulance station in the company’s 3,600-square-mile service area in West Michigan. Life EMS Ambulance also has another Lake County station north of Baldwin on M-37. There have been talks about updating that building as well, but it currently meets their size needs, Stockhill said. Over the years, the county updated the previous Baldwin station the best it could, Meijer said. A new facility with more room to work, however, will show the community’s respect for the medics and residents also will see that respect reciprocated, he added. “It sets a great statement to the community that the paramedics are important,” Meijer said. “Especially in Lake County where there is literally no hospital in the county, our paramedics know they are the front line service, and it sends a great message that they are valued.”