Hospital’s new EMS building set to open at Bayview
September 15, 2009 · Updated 4:16 PM
Whidbey General Hospital will unveil its new Emergency Medical Services building this week.
“This is the first EMS building built for us,” Roger Meyers, the hospital’s EMS manager in Coupeville, said Monday. “We’re extremely excited about moving forward.”
An open house is planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, featuring a ribbon-cutting, tours of the building and its high-tech equipment, and refreshments, Meyers said.
The building is along Highway 525 between the Bayview Park-and-Ride lot and the Bayview Shopping Center.
It will replace the hospital’s current facility in Freeland, and will provide a more central location from which to serve the South End, Meyers said.
He said the Freeland facility has been responding to about 1,500 calls per year, or nearly 30 calls per week in the South Whidbey area.
“The new building puts us in the center of our call hub,” Meyers said. “We hope to have a quicker response to the areas down there.”
The hospital’s EMS program is the only paramedic and ambulance system on Whidbey Island. It often is assisted by the emergency medical response units of Island County Fire District 3, who may be the first on the scene.
The hospital’s units, however, are responsible for transportation and treatment if “a higher level of care” is required, Meyers said. EMS crews would also be responsible for calling in a helicopter if transportation to a specialized facility is needed, he added.
Meyers praised the fire district’s medical response effort.
“We couldn’t do our job without them doing their job,” he said.
The new 4,500-square-foot structure will house two aid vehicles and four medical personnel seven days a week, around the clock, Meyers said.
Although the building has three vehicle bays and accommodations for six paramedics, the staffing of two two-person crews will continue “for the next few years,” he said.
Meyers said that if both Bayview crews are called out, the EMS system would compensate by moving another unit closer to the South End. For example, a unit from Coupeville would be dispatched to Bayview, and one from Oak Harbor would be dispatched to Coupeville.
“We have the ability to do that three or four times,” Meyers said. “The South End would never go without coverage.”
Meyers underscored that the new facility is for medical responses only, and will not be open for walk-in patients.
The Bayview building, funded by a levy approved by voters in 2006, cost about $1.3 million, Meyers said. The total project, including land purchase, was about $2.5 million.
The building, featuring natural wood siding to reflect the rural character of nearby farms, was designed by Mahlum Architects of Seattle and built by Corstone Contractors of Snohomish.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Meyers said of the opening. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the people of South Whidbey.”