Putnam County Operation Life is expanding its coverage of the northern areas of Putnam County with the establishment of a substation on the grounds of Bainbridge Fire Department.
Current plans are for an ambulance to be at the Bainbridge substation daily during the afternoon into the evening hours. Overnight and early morning hours will still be covered by PMH volunteer ambulance out of Roachdale, with Operation Life responding from Greencastle with a paramedic when needed.
There are also plans for volunteer employees at Operation Life to cover the station some days during the overnight hours.
Operation Life Executive Director Kraig Kinney said the reason there is no overnight or early morning coverage for the substation is that staffing patterns make it more feasible for ambulances to be centrally located in Greencastle so they can respond north or south to calls overnight.
Operation Life was located in Roachdale for four years until the lease on the building they were house in lapsed in 2007.
"When our Roachdale lease expired, we considered all of our options," Kinney said. "We were committed to decreasing response times for our northern residents, and Bainbridge was the perfect location to reach all areas north of Greencastle in a timely manner."
Operation Life has entered into a 30-year lease with Bainbridge Fire for the use of the east end of the department's lot. Operation Life covered the costs of building the new structure. FBI buildings did the post construction building, and Criss & Hutcheson did the interior finishing.
"We have been very pleased by the enthusiasm that the people of Bainbridge have shown in welcoming us to their town," said Kinney. "We look forward to serving Bainbridge and other northern residents for years to come."
In a strange sense of timing, construction repair to the main Bainbridge Fire building is nearing completion at the same time as the new Operation Life building.
The Bainbridge Fire building was severely damaged on Feb. 5, when a storm ripped off the roof, exposing the structure to the elements.
"It had to be stripped to the bare walls," said Bainbridge Fire Chief Mike Smith. "Not only was the roof replaced, but so was much of the interior."
During the repairs to the building, some of the Bainbridge Fire apparatus had to be stored around the county, including at Van Bibber Lake Fire and the Putnam County fairgrounds.
"We were lucky that our old firehouse on South Washington Street happened to be open and we could store much of our apparatus there," said Smith.
Smith is hopeful to return to regular operations at the fire department soon.
Bainbridge Fire and Operation Life will host a joint open house of their structures today from 3-5 p.m.