OSCEOLA COUNTY — Osceola County Commissioners are trying to determine the best location of two proposed Emergency Medical Services bases to decrease ambulance response time to emergencies.

The county currently rents housing units for ambulance crews in Evart and Marion. Ambulances are kept in each city’s local fire department.

“There is a significant delay in ambulance crews getting to the ambulance and then responding to a call,” said EMS director Ed Nettles.

The new bases would house the crew, ambulance and supplies under one roof. The move should decrease the time it takes to get the ambulance in route from six minutes to 1.8 minutes, Nettles said.

In 2010, the commission asked Nettles to complete research to determine the best site for the bases.

“We asked the director to find out where a base could be located to give adequate coverage to anybody and everybody at any time of day,” said Osceola County Commission Chairman Dave Brooks.

The distribution of people using the service matters more than the specific location, Nettles said, because no matter where the ambulance is housed, it is used for the whole county.

“It is possible if the Reed City ambulance is busy and the Evart ambulance is busy and we have a call in Reed City, that the ambulance in Marion will respond to Reed City,” Nettles said.

Since the research was completed, many ideas have been discussed, including establishing bases only in Marion and Evart, or adding an additional base in Tustin. Nettles said nothing has been finalized.

A  $150,000 garage-type structure in Marion was offered in 2010 to be financed by the Village of Marion and then paid for monthly by the county, but the design did not fit the county’s specifications.

“Since then, the whole plan has been reviewed and amenities have been added (to the design),” Brooks said.

The county currently owns property in Evart, given to them by the road commission under the stipulation that they would one day build an EMS base there, Brooks said. The property does not have the services of city water, city sewer or natural gas, all of which would be needed for the base.

“We are trying to locate a base within the city limits of Evart,” Nettles said.

If two bases are built, it would not require additional staffing.

An article published by another weekly newspaper led residents to believe the county had entered into an agreement with Marion. Upset citizens addressed the commission at the meeting Feb. 7 urging them to make keep the public informed of their decisions.

Brooks said no agreements have been made. He said establishing locations for the proposal is the first step in a long process before the buildings would be built.

“We don’t even have the resources to build the proposed buildings until we do some creative thinking,” Brooks said.

The commission welcomes the community’s input. The next Osceola County Commission Committee of the Whole meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 9:30 a.m. at the Osceola County Courthouse in the Commissioners’ Room.