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December 13. 2013 10:38PM

Milford celebrates opening of new ambulance facility


The new Milford ambulance facility is nearly finished and personnel are already enjoying their new home. (NANCY BEAN FOSTER/Union Leader Correspondent)

MILFORD — It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas for the Milford Ambulance Service with the completion of their new facility on Elm Street and the delivery of two brand new ambulances.

The department will host an open house Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. to let the public explore the new facility. A ribbon cutting will be held at 1:30 p.m.

For years, the ambulance service has been operating out of the basement of town hall, a cramped space that didn't offer much in the way of comfort or efficiency, according to Director Eric Shelberg. The garage doors were too small to accommodate modern ambulances so staff had to make due with aged ones. And there was nowhere to meet or conduct training within the facility, and few places for staff to sleep during their 24-hour shifts.

But those problems have been solved with the completion of the new facility on Columbus Ave., just off Elm Street. Construction of the $2.2 million building started in April after voters at town meeting approved the plan to move the ambulance service out of town hall and into their own building. It took the town nearly five years to find a facility the voters would throw their support, and their tax dollars, behind.

Shelberg said that now the town has a facility that will last at least 40 years, and with care and maintenance should last even longer than that.

"We tried to build the future into this building," he said.

The building includes a 32-seat community room that will serve as both a place for public meetings and for training space for ambulance service staff. There is a training lab where equipment is stored, storage closets, a crew room with a kitchen and dorm rooms that can accommodate up to 12 people which can come in handy when there's an emergency situation that calls for the staff to be on site for long periods.

"At town hall, we slept five people in two rooms," said Shelberg. "Here we have six rooms that can accommodate two people in each room."

There are showers, an exercise room, a medical records room, and a large office and reception area, as well as a small conference room where a base radio is set up in case something happens with the town's dispatch center.

"We can essentially run dispatch out of this office if we need to," said Shelberg. "The radio can reach the ambulances, fire department and police."

The facility was built with energy efficiency in mind, said Shelberg, and high-efficiency boilers, LED lights, timers and sensors for both interior and exterior lighting should help reduce energy costs for the department.

But it's the new ambulance bays that really make the difference for the department. They can accommodate the two new ambulances that were delivered on Thursday, have all of the technical advances including an exhaust extraction system and an ability to control the traffic light on nearby West Street, and instead of standing out in the cold to wash the ambulances, the vehicles can be cleaned inside the building.


nfoster@newstote.com


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