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Albuquerque Station Under Construction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Construction is well under way on Albuquerque Ambulance s new 56,000-square-foot base station in the Renaissance area south of Monta o NE.

The $7.2 million construction project is expected to be completed in May.

The building, which is triple the size of the existing base station in the North Valley, will make life easier in many ways for the nonprofit service.

For starters, there will be indoor parking for the ambulances, which are like mini-emergency rooms stocked with drugs that need to be kept in a moderate temperature range.

Most of the ambulances are now parked outside, said Robert Garcia, secretary and treasurer of the Albuquerque Ambulance board. What we ve had to do when we took an ambulance off the streets is take all the drugs, pull them out and store them.

A division of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, the service has close to 50 ambulances. The new base station at 4500 Montbel Place NE will have the capacity for 70 ambulances.

In addition, the new building will have six bays, four of which will be equipped with lifts, for vehicle maintenance. That s double what the service has now.

The new building will also have adequate classroom space and crew quarters with showers for the shifts of its 250 full- and part-time employees, Garcia said. Just as important, the 5.3-acre site will have enough parking for the influx of employees and others to training sessions.

Other uses in the new building will include an information technology shop for the heavily computerized service, storage, offices and the dispatching operation.

The dispatch office has a GPS system to keep track of ambulances. When you walk into dispatch, you can see all of the ambulances on the map, Garcia said. If they are moving, you literally see them moving on the map.

Albuquerque Ambulance gets more than 100,000 calls a year, with ambulances rolling on 60,000 to 70,000 of them, he said. Each year, the volume of calls increases about 5 percent.

We re able to predict — hour of the day, day of the week, week of the year — the volume of calls we re going to get, said Garcia, a 22-year veteran of the service.

The new base station is located near both Interstate 25 and the Monta o bridge to the West Side. Ambulances aren t dispatched from the station, lights flashing and sirens going, he said. Each unit is assigned an area of Bernalillo County and generally keeps moving within that area.

For the past 12 years, Albuquerque Ambulance has been based at an 18,000-square-foot building at 4012 Fourth NW that once housed a wallboard company.