Riley County EMS director advocates for new facility

AJ Dome, The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.
·4 min read

Apr. 12—The director of Riley County EMS told county commissioners Monday that the department needs a new facility to replace its aging one.

But county commissioners said they need more information before proceeding.

David Adams, Riley County EMS director, told commissioners during their meeting Monday morning that the needs of the department have changed since the current facility on Claflin Road was built in the late 1970s. Adams said the volume of calls has increased from about 1,500 per year when the facility was completed in 1980, to about 4,600 calls per year now.

Adams said the department needs the ability to house its vehicles and backup equipment in a single location. Right now, a backup ambulance, disaster trailer and two event vehicles are in a temporary location outdoors at the EMS building or at the Riley County Shops facility north of town.

"The building wasn't set up for people to basically be living there," Adams said. "Our trucks have also gotten bigger; our needs have changed."

Previously, the county, city and K-State had been in talks about EMS moving into the Manhattan Fire Department headquarters, which would've required an expansion. However, the county began exploring different options in 2017.

The EMS facility has two sleeping rooms and two co-ed bathrooms, including one with a shower. Adams said they don't meet the current standards for sleeping and shower rooms. A bedroom/office combination for the on-duty supervisor is also listed as needing expansion, and Adams said the county emergency medical services' administration has three offices in two separate buildings, which creates logistical challenges.

Adams' report to commissioners also stated the ventilation in the building is poor, concrete-encased plumbing is failing, and windows and door frames are leaky. Storage bays are inadequate, with the department using homemade wooden cabinets to house equipment.

Adams said there is less than 24 inches of clearance lengthwise in the bays for ambulances, which makes working on the vehicles and carrying equipment between them difficult. He also said the building has no meeting spaces, and the county does not have an emergency operations center for multi-agency use during a disaster.

"In an emergency, we would have to send dispatchers with hand radios to Pottawatomie County, and transfer information that way," Adams said. "That would of course lead to delays in call response."

Adams said he recommends that commissioners come to a consensus on what would be involved with constructing a new facility and how much it would cost.

Commissioners tabled the discussion for later, determining they needed a space needs and location study for the project.

Near the end of the meeting, the commission approved filling a vacant full-time paramedic position.

In other business, commissioners approved a measure to repair County Road 402, or West 59th Avenue, in the Harbour Hills neighborhood on the west side of Tuttle Creek Lake. Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to resurface the road with asphalt for $85,000.

County counselor Clancy Holeman said the road needs to be ground down and smoothed out to fill potholes and cracks.

Three people spoke in favor of fixing the road. Mark James told commissioners he and his wife would not have been interested in their $730,000 home if the road was gravel. Resident Jeff Hancock said the road is in the same condition it was when he moved to the area 16 years ago.

The commission also approved a resolution to establish salaries for two assistant county attorneys. Trinity Muth will receive an annual salary of $131,000, and David Lowden will receive $128,000 per year. Both salaries are retroactive and will start with the 2021 payroll year.

The county hired Muth and Lowden on Jan. 6. Riley County spokeswoman Alice Massimi said officials calculated salaries for Muth and Lowden, they included an extra pay period from 2020, which created a discrepancy for the annual salary equivalent in 2021.

"The amended resolution was needed to accurately report the correct annual equivalent salary for the two assistant county attorneys, which remains the same in 2021 as 2020," Massimi said.

Commissioners also appointed Phil Mattox and Christine Benne to the county Public Health Advisory Council. There are currently ten open positions on the council.