Construction continues on PCAD headquarters

By Emily Jarrett

December 12, 2013

Construction is moving right along on the new Pettis County Ambulance District downtown headquarters.

The PCAD Board of Directors began searching for a building for its headquarters this summer and settled on the old Butternut Building, at West Fourth Street and South Kentucky Avenue.

“I think I looked at just about every building available and this was really the only one we thought could work,” said PCAD Administrator Mike Gardner. “It’s been a big project but a lot of the other places would have taken more work and money to fix. We knew we would be in this building for a few years so we made the decision to lease this place so we could design it to what we needed.”

The building, owned by the Elks Lodge, was nearly gutted and will feature a new large ambulance bay, multiple storage rooms, a medical supply room, men’s bunk room and women’s bunk room, several restrooms and a day room with a kitchen for employees. The front portion of the building — where the Hostess Bakery was previously — will be turned into several offices and training rooms. The building will also feature a small room through the employee entrance for walk-in cases.

“We know being downtown and just in general, people are going to want to walk in to get things checked out,” Gardner said. “We’ll have benches here and a few supplies and our EMTs and paramedics will be able to check out things like blood pressure or if they have a minor injury. If it’s something serious, or requires a trip to the doctor, we’ll be able to load them immediately into an ambulance and take them to Bothwell (Regional Health Center).”

The project was originally budgeted at around $350,000 but several structural issues and other small incidents have raised costs to about $400,000.

“We are over-budget but some of the things, like a structural issue with the front windows, we didn’t know about until we started tearing down the walls,” Gardner said. “The Elks have paid for a portion of some of the larger items and I think we’re still getting a very good building that will be able to last us for as long as we’re here, for a good price.”

The district will spend the next three to four years at the downtown location, until land can be purchased for a new headquarters. One perk of having the downtown space finished, Gardner added, is that PCAD may be able to start looking into building satellite ambulance areas sooner than expected.

“We’d like to have several spread out over the county and originally we thought that wouldn’t happen until after our (official) headquarters was built,” he said. “But this building’s construction is going a lot better than expected and we can be here for as long as we need to.”

Gardner noted PCAD is currently being run out of the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department building on the fairgrounds, and while he thanked fair officials and the fire department for allowing the rental of the building, he said he was ready to move into headquarters.

“Frankly we couldn’t have started without the Volunteer Fire Department allowing us the use of the building,” Gardner said. “We’ve been able to serve Pettis County residents well using that as a base, but we’re ready to get into our own place.”

Construction on the building is expected to be completed sometime in January.