SIERRA VISTA — A new EMS station planned for Buffalo Soldier Trail and Seventh Street will be doubly beneficial — it will provide faster response times for that area of the city, as well as a second ambulance to Fort Huachuca, officials said.
Last week Sierra Vista officials learned the city was one of 16 governmental entities in the country to be awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment. The grant, just under $1.5 million, will cover construction of the new emergency medical services station planned at the corner of Buffalo Soldier Trail and Seventh Street, said Sierra Vista Fire Chief Brian Jones.
Once the station is completed it will help decrease response times in that area of the city, Jones said, as well as assist Fort Huachuca’s fire department at the military installation.
The city takes care of EMS services on post, Jones said. But currently there is only one ambulance at the installation for three fire stations. There is another ambulance at the western end of Fort Huachuca at the Black Tower UAS outpost, as well. The new EMS station will provide a second advanced life support ambulance for the three fire stations, Jones said.
Bradley S. Nicholson, chief of Fort Huachuca’s Fire and Emergency Services, said the benefits to the installation will be numerous.
“The new EMS Station will provide quicker services to soldiers, family members, and government civilians living in Sierra Vista and within the station’s response zone. The ambulance could provide immediate response services to the fort if required,” Nicholson said Friday.
The Fort Huachuca fire chief said the post and the City of Sierra Vista enjoy “an outstanding working relationship” that was strengthened when the two entities entered into the “pre-hospital care Intergovernmental Support Agreement.”
“The agreement enhanced our Advanced Life Support capabilities by providing state certified medic units on the fort,” Nicholson said. “Additionally, we entered into an agreement between the City of Sierra Vista, Cochise Community College, and the Fort Huachuca garrison’s Directorate of Emergency Services whereby the agencies established a firefighting training area on Fort Huachuca. The area provides realistic structural and aircraft firefighting training and other firefighting tasks in a safe well-structured environment.”
Sierra Vista spokesman Adam Curtis said the Intergovernmental Support Agreement with Fort Huachuca was forged in 2017 to provide EMS services to the installation, which resulted in significant cost savings for the post.
“The city’s history of partnership and innovative collaboration with Fort Huachuca helped this project advance to be one of 16 proposals selected out of more than 100 submitted from around the country and US territories,” Curtis stated in a press release.
Curtis said the city identified the need for an EMS substation at this location through multiple City Council strategic plan objectives over the past few years that sought to assess and improve EMS response in Sierra Vista. The project required support from Fort Huachuca and had to demonstrate substantial benefit to the military community stationed in the city.
At the city’s Spotlight Breakfast last fall, Deputy City Manager Victoria Yarbrough talked about improving emergency response times to the city’s southwest edge off Buffalo Soldier Trail.
At the time, Yarbrough said the average response time by fire and paramedics in the city’s Winterhaven subdivision is a little over eight minutes. The goal is to cut that by 25 percent. Yarbrough said the reason for the slower response times in the southwestern corner of the community has to do with location. She said the city’s fire stations are on Fry Boulevard, Giulio Cesare Avenue and Avenida Cochise.
Jones, who expressed excitement for the planned EMS facility, said it will change everything.
“This will be a game-changer for the peak hours (of service), which are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Jones said. “The station will be staffed 24 hours a day and there will always be two people there.”
Jones said the employees who will staff the new facility will be a combination of firefighter-paramedics and EMS personnel.
The grant award, which the city signed last week, provides $1,438,000 million in Office of Economic Adjustment dollars for the project, while the city has budgeted $100,000 to complete the architectural and engineering work. The design will be consistent with the surrounding neighborhood, Curtis said, and is expected to be complete in spring 2021.
Construction of the EMS station should be finished by early 2022, city officials said.