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United Way of Lancaster County


Lancaster EMS moves forward with headquarters project

Lancaster EMS Executive Director Bob May stands outside the former AMVETS building in south Lancaster on Monday, May 20, 2024. Inset: A rendering shows how the building will look after it is remodeled as Lancaster EMS’ headquarters. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher | Rendering: Core Design Group)

“It’s been a long time coming,” Lancaster EMS Executive Director Bob May said of the administrative and operations center that is beginning to take shape at 715 Fairview Ave. in Lancaster.

For a decade and a half, he said, he and his team have been discussing the need for such a hub. They looked at dozens of properties over the past few years before touring the former home of AMVETS Post 19 on Lancaster’s south side.

Plenty of space. Centrally located within Lancaster EMS’ service area. “We knew this was it,” May said.

Lancaster EMS is Lancaster County’s largest and only fully accredited emergency medical agency. The nonprofit provides ambulance service to 21 county municipalities, responding to more than 50,000 calls a year, up 20% just since 2020. Lancaster city accounts for a little under half of them.

It has 11 locations, with administration spread across three of them: Lincoln Highway East, Columbia Avenue and Millersville. All three have challenges with space and especially with parking, May said.

Fairview Avenue will serve as Lancaster EMS’ headquarters, consolidating its administrative, training, maintenance and logistics functions. About 30 people will be based there, May said during a media tour offered as part of National EMS Week this week.

These renderings by Core Design Group depict how the south facade (left) and west facade (right) of 715 Fairview Ave. will look after its remodeling. Click each image to enlarge. (Source: Lancaster EMS)

It’ll be a huge change for the better when everyone is under one roof, he said, and with just over 100 parking spaces, parking will no longer be an issue.

The project will allow expansion of Lancaster EMS’ education and training programs, which are currently constrained by limited space. There will be more room for the community paramedicine operation, which provides outreach, primary care and preventive services.

The paramedicine program includes Refresh Lancaster, the shower trailer that Lancaster EMS deploys in partnership with the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition. Fairview Avenue will become the trailer’s home base. It will also house vehicles for Lancaster EMS’ paratransit service, which provides non-emergency rides, such as transfers between health facilities.

The site will not be a dispatch point for 911 calls: Those will be picked up by the other locations, May said.

What’s coming

Lancaster EMS bought 715 Fairview Ave. in August 2022 for $1.95 million. It has spent the past year and a half refining its plans and going through Lancaster’s land development process. Construction is getting under way; completion and move-in are slated for late 2024 or early 2025, May said.

The first floor of the former AMVETS building is now shell space. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The main two-story AMVETS building, 6,400 square feet, has been gutted. A 4,600-square-foot extension will be added on its east side. On the first floor will be training facilities, the community paramedic program, a community engagement center and a small gym. Offices and conference rooms will be upstairs.

A few yards away, Lancaster EMS will build a 9,100 square foot maintenance garage for its 60-vehicle fleet, replacing space it now leases on Columbia Avenue, where it operates two vehicle lifts. There will be a third lift at Fairview Avenue, increasing throughput and lowering the amount of time vehicles are out of commission. To the north, AMVETS’ “Leo P. Morgan Pavilion” will be remodeled to serve as a supply depot.

The pavilion. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

All told, the project is budgeted at $6.1 million. Lancaster EMS has applied for a $1 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant and plans to launch a capital campaign this summer. It expects to take out a low-interest loan through the state’s EMS and fire department program; and it has reserves it can tap, if needed.

It will also use the proceeds from the sale of 100 E. Charlotte St. in Millersville, which it will no longer need once administrative operations are consolidated at Fairview. The property went on the market earlier this month for an asking price of $785,000.

Its emergency services in Millersville will relocate to 237 N. George St., the former Millersville University police station. Lancaster EMS will station two vehicles there and is leasing the first floor.

Lancaster EMS is selling this property at 100 E. Charlotte St., Millersville. (Source: Lancaster EMS)

The neighbors around Fairview Avenue have been welcoming and supportive, May said. He’s looking forward to opening the sites community engagement center, where visitors will be able to stop in to have a child car seat checked, have their blood pressure checked or receive a flu vaccination.

He said the reality of the project set in for him about a week ago, when contractor Heck Construction began moving its trailers onto the site.

“It’s exciting,” he said.