A small parcel of land east of Interstate 29 along County Road U sits with a visible “For Sale” sign. About 2½ miles east, a brand new building front with five large garage doors stands in stark juxtaposition to the empty lot.
The plots of land tell the story of a six-year journey for the Northland Regional Ambulance District (NRAD) and its quest to provide more efficient service to Platte County residents.
The Camden Point Fire Protection District started work on its new facility in early 2014, and the building should be finished within the next month. In addition, NRAD will move one of its three ambulances there to share space in hopes of allowing it to be utilized more often.
“We’re starting to prepare the district to make that transition,” NRAD executive director Scott Roy said. “There’s a lot of factors that come into play. It’s going to increase the call volume and the efficiency. That’s a great advantage to the taxpayer. It’s going to make us more efficient as we provide service to this rural area, which is very costly to say the least.
“That’s the great story of centrally locating that ambulance, no matter how we do it.”
NRAD began staffing a third 24-hour ambulance after voters approved a 15-cent tax levy increase in 2006.
Dispatched as Medic 48, the third ambulance is currently housed at the Dearborn Area Fire Protection District’s Station 1 and will move southward on Interurban Road to the Camden Point Fire Protection District’s new fire station, located near the Camden Point City Park, upon its completion in the coming weeks.
The move will allow the ambulance to provide better coverage when the district’s other ambulances are on calls, according to Roy.
NRAD’s board of directors first identified the need for a new home for its third ambulance in early 2010.
A stroke of luck, literally, allowed the district to be a part of the Camden Point Fire Protection District’s new home. Camden Point residents Mark and Cindy Hill won half of a then-record $587 million Powerball jackpot in November of 2012, just one month after NRAD’s board president Kevin Rawlings pleaded guilty to misuse of official information that delayed the original plans to relocate the ambulance’s home base.
Rawlings bought land near the intersection of I-29 and County Road U, the same lot still empty and now up for sale, knowing NRAD would potentially seek out the parcel for use. NRAD is now attempting to sell the two acres after receiving an invitation to house Medic 48 at the Camden Point Fire Station.
The Hills donated the money to fund the $3 million station, which provides better highway access for the Camden Point Fire Protection District. The new building is about four times larger than the current facility located in downtown Camden Point at the intersection of Second and Camden streets.
“It was all the Hills,” Camden Point fire chief Walt Stubbs said. “We are definitely thankful for them. We are excited to be finishing up. We have room to grow. It’s a very green station. Every effort was made to make it as energy efficient as possible. The new station will make all the difference to us serving the community better.”
Currently NRAD receives about 2,500 calls per year requesting medical care.
Medic 48 takes about 350 calls per year. About 22 percent of those calls originate in Dearborn, about 18 percent in Camden Point and 40 percent in Platte City. The rest of its calls come from mutual aid requests and calls in Smithville.
Roy hopes the move south will increase the ambulance’s call load to take stress off of the other ambulances in addition to improving call times for roughly 80 percent of the ambulance’s calls.
The move will also allow the ambulance to stay put rather than to stage for coverage when the other ambulances housed in Smithville and Platte City are both on calls. Currently, Medic 48 goes to Camden Point when Platte City’s ambulance receives a call.
“Right now, it will move less often,” Roy said. “That’s one advantage of centrally locating. It will move less often. Exactly how the deployment plan will come out as far as what happens when we go down to one ambulance, I think a lot of that will continue to evolve with demand. I think it will always be flexible and something that can change. It changes by time of year. It changes by day of week.
“Ultimately, it’s the supervisor’s job to allocate resources based on demand.”
The new station will house all of Camden Point’s fire vehicles as well as having space for a community room and offices. Construction is slated to wrap up in early May and there will be a public open house to give a chance to tour the new facility in the weeks following.