Brainerd ambulances move stations for the first time in decades

A recent move, however, means ambulances are responding to new management and new searches. The North Memorial Health Brainerd area ambulance moved on March 1 from its accommodation in two buildings on the 200 block of Northwest Fifth Street in Brainerd to an expanded location on Industrial Park Road in Baxter.

The move will make Brainerd’s ambulance service more efficient and will not increase response times, said Kevin Lee, director of the Brainerd area ambulance office.

Building 210 NW Fifth St. was the original site of the Brainerd Ambulance Service, started by Terry Moberg in the late 1960s. North Memorial Health took it over from Moberg in 1987, then demolished the building and in built a new one in 1992.

“We ended up getting out of it,” Lee said of the building. “We ended up having to set up our administrative offices across from the crew quarters and where the trucks were because there was not enough room. So we started looking for a situation where we could have everyone in the same building.

“By moving, we have everyone under the same roof and we have space for training and more space for our vehicles. … Classroom space was also important. There was not enough room to get everyone together to practice. Here we can have 30 people in the classroom without the COVID restrictions. “

Brainerd Area Ambulance Office Manager for North Memorial Health, Kevin Lee, shows where staff members complete reports on Thursday, April 29, 2021, at their new facility in Baxter.  Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Area Ambulance Office Manager for North Memorial Health, Kevin Lee, shows where staff members complete reports on Thursday, April 29, 2021, at their new facility in Baxter. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Lee said the new classroom will be named after Gary Pearson, who worked for North Memorial Health from 1987 to 2013. Pearson was the manager of Brainerd station until 2008.

The new ambulance site is over 10,000 square feet, which North Memorial leases. The building was remodeled specifically for North Memorial in the Baxter Industrial Park – just south of the Minnesota Department of Transportation and north of the US Post Office near College Road – near Highway 371.

The building includes administrative offices and accommodation for ambulance teams. There is a common area including a kitchen and living room with a TV and recliners when crews have a chance to relax between calls. There are four rest rooms for members of the ambulance team where they have a bed to sleep on. There are two bathrooms and two showers, as well as a changing room.

North Memorial Health Brainerd Station Supervisor Matt Cordes talks about the effectiveness Thursday, April 29, 2021 of their new location in the Baxter Industrial Park.  Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

North Memorial Health Brainerd Station Supervisor Matt Cordes talks about the effectiveness Thursday, April 29, 2021 of their new location in the Baxter Industrial Park. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Three teams are stationed during the day and two at night, with a team on duty for Brainerd station alone. Each crew includes a paramedic and an emergency medical services technician.

The garage space is spacious to accommodate all ambulance vehicles. The Brainerd area station has eight ambulances to maintain. The site also has a full time mechanic to keep everything running efficiently.

North Memorial Health operates four other ambulance sites in the Lake District with two ambulances at each station in Aitkin, Crosslake, Longville and Pine River. There are 72 crew members who work at one of the five stations in the Lake District.

The new North Memorial Health Brainerd ambulance station in Baxter Industrial Park on Thursday April 29, 2021 has a modern repair shop to service vehicles.  Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The new North Memorial Health Brainerd ambulance station in Baxter Industrial Park on Thursday April 29, 2021 has a modern repair shop to service vehicles. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Response times to medical calls are not expected to increase, but to improve, Lee said of the move. The Brainerd area ambulance responds to numerous calls along the Highway 371 corridor from Brainerd north to Nisswa.

“There are a lot of new developments in this area and at the same time we are still able to meet our targets,” Lee said of response times. “We have a response time target of 11 minutes on 90% of calls for the towns of Brainerd and Baxter and we are still able to meet those targets from (Baxter’s location). In fact, we looked at the month of March after we moved here, and our call responses in Brainerd were 94%. So there are actually parts of southern Brainerd that we can get to here faster than we could from our old station because we can just walk straight down College Road.

North Memorial Health ambulance services have moved to a renovated building in the Baxter Industrial Park.  The new quarters will provide more space for the entire department, including staff and vehicles.  Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

North Memorial Health ambulance services have moved to a renovated building in the Baxter Industrial Park. The new quarters will provide more space for the entire department, including staff and vehicles. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Communications between administration and crews have improved in the new location.

“Before, we either had to cross the street to meet the crews, or they had to cross the street to come to our office to meet us, so it was really not a very good situation in terms of communicating with each other. Lee said.

Brainerd-area ambulance supervisor Matt Cordes agreed and said the biggest change he’s found since moving to the Baxter site is communication.

“It made the working relationship between team members, supervisors and the manager much stronger,” Cordes said. “We work more together and are able to communicate a lot better rather than being in two separate buildings, which has been the biggest change and the most beneficial change.”

JENNIFER KRAUS can be contacted at [email protected] or 218-855-5851. Follow me on www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.




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