VALDOSTA -- For the past several years, Valdosta City Council has expressed an interest in adding another ambulance station to the area. In January, Valdosta will fulfill that goal when an ambulance substation is added to Fire Station No. 6 on Enterprise Drive.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to partner in a way that was win-win for all partners," said City Manager Larry Hanson.

South Georgia Medical Center representatives will share Fire Station No. 6 with firefighters to provide the fifth emergency management service zone in Lowndes County.

The plan begins Jan. 8 and will automatically renew each year starting July 1.

The station was selected based on where a majority of emergency calls originated from in the county.

"Our primary goal was to put as many residents within Lowndes County within a six-minute response time," said Randy Sauls, chief operating officer for SGMC. "It's just a perfect location, and in the main event it puts us on the other side of the railroad tracks."

Based on Lowndes County's Geographical Information System, Hanson said the station was most efficient for dispatching emergency response teams since it's located west of the railroad tracks.

"It had always been an issue when a train was passing east and west that prevented access to citizens," Hanson said. "Reviewing statistics and calls, the need in the service was discussed with Lowndes County and SGMC."

Sauls said the location is also effective since it is located near a developing area consisting of new subdivisions and the industrial park.

"It really puts the ambulance service significantly closer to those citizens and in addition ... closer to the Interstate," Sauls said.

Hanson said the plan will be costly for expanding services, but by housing SGMC in an existing building it makes the plan more cost effective for the county and hospital.

"The costs will be absorbed by the hospital, and the housing was collaboratively donated to us by Chief (J.D.) Rice," Sauls said.

A two-man crew from SGMC will be at the station at all times, with 65 medics available to rotate duties.

SGMC will be provided with sleeping space, storage facilities, parking and the use of an ambulance. SGMC and the city's fire department will also share station duties such s general housekeeping, ambulance washing and television privileges, Sauls said.

"It will be a nice fit," Hanson said. "It's a good demonstration of three entities working together."

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