New Ambulance Building, Lease Agreement a Step Closer in Cranberry

Township officials are expected to vote next week on final plans for a new building for Cranberry EMS as well as a unique partnership agreement.

A new building for Cranberry Emergency Medical Services is a stop closer to reality.

Cranberry’s board of supervisors are expected to vote at their next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 on whether to approve plans for a 8,103 square foot ambulance building to be located next to the Cranberry Township Volunteer Company’s Park Station on Route 19.

Under the terms of a new partnership, which also will be voted on next week, the township would build the structure and Cranberry EMS would lease it at a cost of $3,500 per month.

Speaking at Thursday’s workshop meeting, Jeff Schueler, Cranberry’s director of public safety, said the building, which includes six ambulance bays and two stories, is expected to cost about $1.6 million. The building also would include sleeping quarters and a small meeting room for workers.

The township will pay for the building with help from a $10 million low-interest loan officials took out last September for capital improvement projects.

Half of that amount was earmarked for sewer and water line upgrades. The other $5 million went towards construction of a new public safety training facility that opened in late 2012.

Located near the township’s public works building off Route 19, the building, which cost an estimated $1.1 million, houses training and classroom facilities for Cranberry’s firefighters, police officers and EMS workers.

The remaining money is slated to be used towards construction for a new home for Cranberry EMS.

The ambulance company currently leases space on Thomson Park Drive from the UPMC Passavant Foundation. Schueler said the EMS service is outgrowing the building, which he also described as falling into disrepair.

The Deal

As part of the proposed two-part lease and service agreement, the ambulance company would report to Cranberry while remaining a separate entity from the township.

“We’re going to provide a physical facility, but we’re expecting them to perform in a certain manner,” township manager Jerry Andree said.

Schuler said Cranberry EMS would be expected to provide high-quality, 24/7 service to the community. In addition to maintaining all EMS vehicles in good working order, the ambulance company also must provide a turnout time on emergency calls of no more than 90 seconds, 90 percent of the time, Schueler said.

“What that means is that within 90 seconds of receiving a call from Butler 9-1-1, they will have a truck out the door en route to the call,” he said.

The EMS service also will provide Schueler with a quarterly report outlining all calls, including calls workers may have missed or calls service providers from other communities had to take because Cranberry EMS was too busy.

Although ambulance company covers the township, Seven Fields and New Sewickley, Schueler said priority is expected to be given to Cranberry residents on calls. The EMS service also will present a yearly budget to be reviewed by the township.

Schueler added he was not aware of any similar partnerships between EMS providers and local government in any surrounding areas.

"I think it's pretty unique," he said. "It’s a great partnership."

A Long History

Schueler said plans for a new ambulance building have been in the works since 1996, but were delayed while the EMS company dealt with financial and leadership issues, including a crash by an ambulance driver on a call in 2007 that killed two people.

The company also fired former executive director Steve Tedesco in 2011 after he was charged with sexually assaulted an unconscious 19-year-old man from Evans City.

These days, Andree said Cranberry EMS, led by Jeff Kelly, is a professional and highly-responsible firm.

“We’re going to have a great working relationship with them,” Schuler said. “It’s been a long process, but I think it’s going to be what's best for the community. We're going to have a first-rate building for them.”

In the future, if Cranberry chooses not to retain the ambulance company as its EMS provider, the lease agreement would be terminated, Schueler said.  

“If they don’t provide the services we need, the building reverts back to the township and we can look for another service provider,” he said.

The primary term of the lease is for two five-year terms. The secondary term is an option for five additional years, Schueler said. After 15 years, it goes to a yearly lease agreement.

As part of the deal, Cranberry is required to pay any workers compensation for volunteers and also agree to an annual discretionary fuel fund for the service.

If the plans are approved, Schueler said construction on the ambulance building could be completed by late 2013.

Thoughts on the proposed new ambulance building? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Candidly February 02, 2013 at 03:34 AM
I wonder if I can get Cranberry taxpayers to build me a building and then pay me to be a monopoly service provider. They can pretend to charge me rent, but actually pay my rent for me with $$$ they also are taxed to pay me each month. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal! You're bragging it's "a first rate building", so I'm sure everyone who is not paying for it is pretty excited!


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