Rick Morse, left, president of the Ticonderoga Emergency Squad, and Mark Barber, captain, stand outside the unit’s new building at 118 Champlain Avenue.
The Ticonderoga Emergency Squad is settling into its new home.
The ambulance service has moved into its new building at 118 Champlain Avenue, located between Champlain Avenue and The Portage.
“It’s a great building and has already been a big help to us,” said Rick Morse, squad president. “Morale has really picked up. Everybody feels good and is more involved.”
The Ticonderoga Emergency Squad had been located in a small garage behind the Community Building since 1963. That building long-ago became too small for a modern ambulance corps. The location also caused concerns about emergency vehicles pulling into traffic.
The new building is 4,100 square feet with access from Champlain Avenue and The Portage.
“We think we have a great location here,” Morse said. “We’re very pleased with the way things have turned out.”
The new building is on the site of the old Ticonderoga Civic Center and was sold to the ambulance squad in 2009 by the town of Ticonderoga.
The building includes two drive through bays, a meeting room, offices, kitchen, lounge and storage areas, Morse said. It also has a state-of-the-art propane heating system that automatically adjusts to weather conditions. It also has a generator so it can remain operational during power outages. The architect was Steve Jung of Schroon Lake.
The building project had a budget of $860,000 — $280,000 raised by the squad and a $600,000 loan. Work was just recently completed and there are still some outstanding bills, but Morse said the project will be under budget.
Still, there is a 30-year mortgage. The Ticonderoga Emergency Squad receives no taxpayer funding from Ticonderoga and operates strictly on donations, insurance billing and donations.
“We’ll always be fund raising,” Morse said. “That’s how we survive. WE have to pay the mortgage on the building, maintain our equipment, meet our financial obligations.”
Helping the squad financially is the sale of the former ambulance building to Lakeside Heating and Plumbing. That $68,000 will go toward the new mortgage payment, Morse said.
Don Paige was the general contractor for the project.
Morse noted the contributions of many people in the community. Dave Woods donated all the excavating work. Ticonderoga Central School donated tables and a projector screen for use in the training room. Members Sue and Dennis Johnson donated kitchen appliances. The Carillon Garden Club will complete landscaping at the facility this spring.
The Ticonderoga Emergency Squad has 30 members, including 12 basic emergency medical technicians, three critical care emergency medical technicians and one paramedic. It has three ambulances. The Ti squad is the only North Country unit with a “thumper,” an auto-pulse cardiopulmonary resuscitation device.
In 2011 the squad responded to 526 calls. That was a slow year, according to Captain Mark Barber. In 2010 the squad answered 620 calls. Only the Lake Placid Ambulance Squad, which has paid staff, answered more calls in Essex County last year, Barber said.
The ambulance crew also stands by at local events, like Ticonderoga High School football games, activities at Fort Ticonderoga, road races and community events.
The Ticonderoga Emergency Squad is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Barber explained members work four-hour shifts. Each member sis required to work one shift a week as well as participate in training and fund raising efforts.
“We have a great group,” Morse said. “They’re very dedicated. We’re one of the few (ambulance) organizations in the North Country that doesn’t have paid staff.”
The new building has also sparked a renewed interest in the Ticonderoga Emergency Squad. Barber pointed out the group has gotten several new members in the past month and expects more people to join.
“We have applications for membership here or people can talk to any member,” Barber said. “We welcome new members.”
Morse credited Dennis and Sue Johnson for helping make the new emergency services building a reality. Dennis Johnson was squad president in 2009 when the project started. Both remain members.
‘Dennis and Sue Johnson really made this happen,” Morse said. “Without them we wouldn’t be here.”
The Ticonderoga Emergency Squad has a long history. The unit formed following World War II when patients were picked up in an old hearse donated by a local funeral home.