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November 2, 2013

CRMC ambulance service still looking for permanent home

After spending the past two-and-a-half year looking for a new home, Cullman Emergency Medical Services (CEMS) could wind up back where it all began before the April, 2011 tornadoes demolished the ambulance service’s long-time location.

For decades, the service was located at a site on U.S. Highway 31 in downtown across from the Cullman County Courthouse. That is until the 2011 tornadoes shredded the office and ambulance bays, forcing the group to seek a temporary home ever since.

The CEMS service runs a fleet of 14 ambulances, and officials pride themselves on the fact they never missed a call in the days after the tornado destroyed their offices.

After considering myriad options in the years since, Cullman Regional Medical Center officials are eying a potential return to the old site — with some obvious improvements, of course. The proposed redesign would feature an access ramp on the north side, with a brick and glass facade facing the highway.

The hospital board sought a waiver from the Cullman city council earlier this week to allow a ramp to be built at the site for ambulance access, if the service does return to the old site.

“We’re still looking at everything, but that’s something we needed to know if we’re going to consider going back to the old building,” Todd McLeroy, with the CRMC board of directors, said. “We’ve had to find temporary housing, and that’s the situation we’re still in. We’re still weighing our options, and rebuilding there is an option.”

In the years since 2011, the ambulance service has bounced between a handful of rental properties. The service is now housed at the old emergency room space in the defunct Woodland Hospital.

Whatever direction the new operations center will take, McLeroy said hospital officials hope to have it up and running as soon as possible.

“It’ll be three years in April that we haven’t had a permanent site,” he said. “We’re working hard to find a permanent home.”

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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