The conversion of the former state police post garage into an ambulance station to provide emergency medical services east of the Louisville & Indiana Railroad line in Seymour may begin as early as Sept. 1.
The need for that station is being driven by an increase in train traffic created by a $90-million plus upgrade to the 106½-mile rail line that cuts the city nearly in half.
Schneck Medical Center plans to renovate the building on the 3.08-acre property at 721 E. Tipton St. where the state police post was located. The post closed in early 2010.
Once the renovation work is complete, Schneck will lease the building to Jackson County Emergency Medical Services for use as a second ambulance station, EMS director Dennis Brasher said Thursday.
The ambulance station project has been in the works since 2014, when the Louisville & Indiana and CSX railroads first announced plans to upgrade the L&I line that runs from Louisville to Indianapolis. L&I owns the line, but CSX also uses it.
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board approved proposed upgrades to the line in April 2015 after a lengthy study of how it would affect communities along its path.
The number of trains traveling through the city is expected to grow from two or three a day to 15 or more. Those trains also could be longer, heavier and faster.
That increase has local officials concerned it will be more difficult to provide emergency medical services to people who live east of the railroad line. In 2013, 63 percent of the runs made by Jackson County EMS crews were east of the rail line.
The hospital owns the land and building for the existing ambulance station, which is at 616 W. Brown St., on the city’s west side.
Jackson County EMS has an agreement with the hospital to run its operations there and it would be a similar agreement for the new station, Brasher said.
Brasher said he has been meeting with officials with Cooler Design Inc. to address what is needed to make the former state police post garage usable for one full-time ambulance crew now and the possibility for a second in the future.
“It’s going to take quite a bit,” he said of the project.
That work will include expanding the garage from its current 3,418-square-feet to hold three ambulances and provide staff space to work around them.
“It’s a pretty tight fit,” Brasher said. One of the ambulances would be used by the full-time crew; the second would be used by a crew that would be on duty during the day Mondays through Fridays; and the third would be a backup.
The inside of the building, which was constructed in 1991, also will be completely remodeled into living quarters including four bedrooms and heating, air and ventilation systems would be replaced, Brasher said.
He said the schedule calls for a pre-bid meeting with potential contractors Aug. 11. Bids would be due Aug. 23 and work would start Sept. 1.
The work is scheduled to be substantially complete in mid-December, and staff would move in after the first of the year.
Brasher said hospital officials, including president and CEO Warren Forgey, have been working to make the project happen as quickly as possible.
Schneck spokeswoman Stephanie Furlow said the hospital does not have any plans in place at this time when it comes to the future of the two-story state police post, which was built in 1937.