New AMED Building
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The Altoona Mobile Emergency Department, or AMED, handles over 22,000 calls a year, covering 420 square miles from five stations. Department officials said they're out of space in their administrative offices. One of their stations is forced to work out of a storage room at Lakemont Park, but an upgrade is on the way. "It's been a long arduous process. It's taken almost two years to get to this point. It's exciting we're going to have a training facility, administrative offices and a whole new EMS station," said Gary Watters, AMED executive director. AMED's Lakemont station operated out of the Lakemont fire station starting in 1987, but space was an issue. "Two years ago, they informed us that they were buying a new fire apparatus and that they would need bay space,� Watters said. "They offered to put on additional space but we figured, at that point, it was time to move into a bigger building." The new Lakemont station will give AMED a much larger facility and house administration when it opens next may. Watters said AMED will soon have full staff meetings under one roof for the first time and the new offices will also create space for interactions with the community. "AMED now will be able to hold our own EMT classes (and) first responder classes but will also be able to do community education, CPR classes, those types of things at this facility," Watters said. Watters said AMED struggles to find qualified EMS providers to work for them. He said the facility can help solve the problem. "Currently, there is a real shortage of EMS providers. It's going to be key to be able to hire people who are not trained and train them into becoming EMS providers,It has to be the wave of the future for us because we can't find people to hire at this point." AMED is working through gaining driveway access to Park Avenue. Watters said they don't want to disturb the neighborhood by driving through with sirens and flashing lights. "But that process has been a little difficult because Park Avenue is a limited-access highway just the same as Interstate 99," Watters said. "We have to meet all kinds of studies and submit the papers and have them approve it." Though he admits completion is a long way off, Watters said he�s happy to see construction underway. "It's exciting to see ground moving but now we're still not done planning. We're still not done with the next phase, but it's very exciting." Watters said he expects the new station to help AMED serve the area for the next 50 years or more. He hopes the new offices become a hub for EMS training and prepare new recruits for service throughout Central Pennsylvania.