OPN was selected in May 2016 to design a much-needed ambulance services building for Johnson County. The board has roughly $6.8 million budgeted for the project. The building at 808 South Dubuque Street — where the current Johnson County Ambulance Services Department is located — will house ambulance services, the Medical Examiner’s Office and provide storage 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, but plans were placed on the back burner in recent years while the board attempted to address space and security needs at the Johnson County Courthouse and jail. The department moved into the building at 808 South Dubuque Street in 1988 and retrofitted the former Fisher auction building into a serviceable ambulance facility — with paramedics hanging drywall, installing windows and turning a portion of the building into an ambulance garage.
In 1988, the ambulance service department’s roughly 25 staff members responded to about 4,000 calls for service, Ambulance Service Director Steve Spenler said. Last year, the department’s 62 employees responded to more than 9,300 calls. Sustainability, 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 (currently, one has to be parked across the street), insufficient clearance for ambulances pulling in and out, and consolidation of operations with the medical examiner.