Johnson County celebrates new Ambulance Service & Medical Examiner Building

Just more than a year since Johnson County broke ground on its new, much-needed  Ambulance Service & Medical Examiner Building, supervisors invite residents to take a peek at the $7.69 facility at a open house from 4 to 6 p.m. July 15. A ribbon cutting will take place at 5 p.m.

The building at 808 S. Dubuque St. in Iowa City — the site of the former Johnson County Ambulance Services Department — will house ambulance services, the Medical Examiner’s Office Facilities Department and provide space for the Auditor’s Office and Facilities Department. County officials looked to build a new facility for years, based on the growing needs and call volume of the ambulance services department. In 1988 — the year operations moved to the former facility — the ambulance service department’s roughly 25 staff members responded to about 4,000 calls for service, Ambulance Service Director Steve Spenler said. In 2016, the department’s 62 employees responded to more than 9,300 calls.

The facility was designed not just for the vehicles but to enhance the day-to-day for the people who work there. Sustainability — including a green roof, in-floor heating and a solar array, efficient building practices, and creating a building with the possibility to expand at a later date are all crucial factors in the final design. The new building will solve issues such as parking for all the ambulances (previously, one has to be parked across the street), insufficient clearance for ambulances pulling in and out, and consolidation of operations with the medical examiner.

Construction on the new building began in March 2016. The project was led by Principal-in-Charge David Sorg and Iowa City studio founder, Associate Principal Justin Bishop.