AMED looks to park for temporary digs

Ambulance service in need of space for several months

Ambulance calls are rarely amusing for the parties needing help, but AMED ambulance service is looking to take a temporary turn in a local amusement park.

The authority plans to build a station in Lakemont to replace the rented section of the Lakemont fire station that it currently occupies, because the fire company needs the space for a new truck and for storage of equipment used by its growing number of firefighters.

However, the authority’s new station on Shand Avenue won’t be ready until two or three months after AMED’s lease with the fire company expires in August, according to AMED Executive Director Gary Watters.

To avoid the need to create its own temporary quarters for the interim, the authority has asked the operators of Lakemont Park for rental space, Watters said Monday.

The park partnership is willing, if it can be done.

“I haven’t had a chance to look over space availability or how much he needs,” Ralph Albarano, head of the park partnership, said of Watters. “But if I can accommodate him, I’d be glad to help.”

AMED needs office space, but doesn’t need space in a garage, as the Lakemont ambulances can be parked outside — provided they’re close enough to a building to run extension cords to standard outlets, so that on-board equipment can continue to run while the vehicles are parked, Watters said.

Watters is hopeful that the authority will be able to obtain rental space somewhere.

Previously, officials spoke of renting modular units.

AMED has been working with an architect on the station project, which Watters hopes to put out for bid in May.

The project could cost close to $1 million, if it includes a $350,000 second story that would provide space for administrative and training functions, public education and the organization’s headquarters, now at the Altoona station on the 1000 block of Seventh Avenue.

The board won’t decide whether to build that second story until it sees how much more it will cost, based on the bids, Watters said.

An engineering consultant has been working on a “point-of-access” study to justify AMED’s request to PennDOT for permission to create an exit directly onto Park Avenue, according to Watters.

That exit would only be used for outgoing ambulances on emergency calls.

The benefits include quicker responses, less disturbance for neighbors and increased safety, Watters said.

The study involves line-of-sight analyses for both ambulance drivers and Park Avenue motorists and environmental impacts, Watters said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.