Good news for AMED, Lakemont

Details of what prompted AMED’s decision to pursue construction of a $500,000 substation are secondary to the fact that this longtime Altoona area emergency-services provider will continue to be a first-class responder for those whose well-being and lives depend on its excellent professional skills and efficiency.

AMED won’t be moving far — less than half a mile — from space it currently rents at the Lakemont Volunteer Fire Company. The new building, needed for when the ambulance service’s current lease expires on Aug. 31, will be built on land fronting on Shand Avenue and backing up against Park Avenue, across from the ticket booth at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

AMED’s departure will open up space that Lakemont volunteers need, in part, due to the addition of a new fire truck that is scheduled to be delivered this month.

In addition, according to John Seiler, a fire company trustee, the company needs more storage space due to its increasing number of firefighters.

The fact that AMED will be building the new substation is important news, but so is Seiler’s disclosure that the fire company’s firefighting roster is growing, not becoming smaller.

Other volunteer fire companies across Pennsylvania should take notice, as well as try to learn how Lakemont has been able to deliver such an outcome at a time when many other firefighting units are dealing with anemic manpower rosters.

Volunteer firefighter shortages are said to exist statewide, and the reasons aren’t difficult to identify.

Many families are dealing with more pressures today than what their parents and grandparents dealt with decades ago.

Some adults are working more than one job, and oftentimes job responsibilities take them many miles from their homes, sometimes for days rather than hours.

It’s probably safe to say that there are more two-wage-earner families today than ever before. And, oftentimes their jobs don’t entail a consistent work schedule, making it difficult for them to be counted on for service such as with their local volunteer fire company.

Also, today, families — husbands, wives and children — are involved in more outside activities that also impose limits on what they’re otherwise able to do.

Nevertheless, Lakemont is succeeding in increasing the size of its manpower asset while some others are struggling. Through all that, it’s been outgrowing the current use of its facilities.

The departure of AMED will offer it breathing room, while AMED’s new substation will relieve some of the uncertainties that otherwise might have dogged its future under a continued lease-of-space arrangement.

AMED likely will save money over the long run by constructing the proposed substation at this time — one that it will own for as long as it chooses to do so.

In the big picture, then, both AMED and Lakemont Fire Company stand to reap benefits from what’s been announced, while neither will be impacted negatively.

AMED will remain a first-class ambulance responder and the fire company hopefully will continue to build on its recruiting and fire service preparedness, at the same time continuing its record of excellent service.

Sometimes changes are detrimental, but not this one.

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