Tory Hill EMS ambulance base up and running 0
Guests mingle during the official grand opening of the new EMS ambulance base located at the former Tory Hill firehall, on Highway 118, held on June 12. The building recently underwent renovations, making it a full functioning ambulance base for the Haliburton County emergency services department. ANGELICA BLENICH/HALIBURTON COUNTY ECHO/QMI AGENCY
Ambulances are ready to roll out of Tory Hill thanks to a new base that officially opened on June 12.
Located at the former Tory Hill fire hall on Highway 118 in Highlands East, the base is now home to the Haliburton County Emergency Medical Services.
"This is a huge event for me personally, for my department and for the county as well," said Pat Kennedy, EMS director for Haliburton County.
In response to a growing need to provide better services to residents in the eastern part of the county, county politicians began searching for possible EMS sites in Highlands East in 2009, according to Kennedy.
"In 2000 when the county took over the ambulance service from the province we did about 200 calls in Highlands East. Now it's escalated to over 400 calls out here," said Kennedy.
The department monitored and tracked where calls were coming from and determined Tory Hill to be the exact right location for a base, said Kennedy.
"This was the spot to be."
In 2000 the average response time to calls in Highlands East was 26 minutes. That number dropped down to 21 minutes in 2008 after EMS began providing standby services in the area.
"Now as a result of county council endorsing the summer enhancement program where we have four ambulances on during the day . we've now dropped that down to just over 18 minutes in 2011," said Kennedy.
Approximately 18 months ago the county of Haliburton decided to transform the former fire hall into a modern ambulance base, with the intent on further reducing EMS response times.
The final project was a functional building that was completed on budget, said Haliburton County Warden Murray Fearrey.
"I'm really pleased with what I see here today," said Fearrey.
Prior to the opening the building underwent extensive renovations, with work completed by Mark Lane Construction.
The upgraded facility now features a garage with space for two ambulances, a kitchen, living/office space, washroom, male and female locker rooms and a supply room.
The base will be staffed seven days a week, 12 hours a day, according to Kennedy.
The Tory Hill location will have a staffed ambulance on site if the department has three or more vehicles available.
With EMS responding to three calls in the municipality prior to 1 p.m. on the day of the opening, Kennedy didn't need to emphasize the need for the new base.
"This is going to be a busy shop, it's not a retirement centre," said Kennedy.
The property was formerly home to a schoolhouse, built in 1882, and used for educational purposes until 1966. It went on to be used as a community centre.
It was turned into a fire hall in 1995.
"I just want to say how thrilled we are in Highlands East that this day has arrived, I couldn't think of a better purpose for this property," said Highlands East Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge.