Okla. county EMS officials pursue funding for larger central station
Muskogee County EMS has outgrown its classrooms and fleet maintenance space
By Cathy Spaulding
MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Okla. — Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service intends to move its central station to a larger space.
Muskogee County EMS wants to move from its current location, 200 Callahan St., to B Street and Cincinnati Avenue, the site of the former Muskogee County Juvenile Detention Facility, Sequoyah Elementary and Muskogee Little Theatre.
EMS External Funding Director Jerri Stoutermire said the service needs funding and local support to make this happen.
“We’re in the early stages of seeking grant opportunities, in getting grant infrastructure, and we are working closely with the county on creating that,” she said. “With any grant you apply for, you have to have that support. We are garnering support from the county and the city so we can demonstrate that need.”
Muskogee City Council voted to support the move at its regular meeting this week.
EMS public relations director Trish German said EMS has outgrown the current station, which opened in 1997. She said six people do billing out of one office.
“One area where we have outgrown is our education area,” she said. “We are training 130 medics monthly, just to keep up on their continuing education. They have to have their continuing education to work on their trucks. But we are so compact in there. There are some times when all three of our classrooms are being used by EMT classes or EMR classes.”
German said eight ambulance units, the EMS disaster trailer and special event unit are at the central location. Fleet maintenance is done at the facility.
“The call volume is getting so much higher, we’re having to increase our fleet, increase our staffing,” she said. “We’re down to two bedrooms for the medics who work overnight. We just have the two rooms and a small day room.”
She said as many as 16 medics can be at the central facility.
“Plus we have a supervisor, and you are looking at QA officers or people in their offices,” she said. “You’re looking at as many as 40-50 people here at the facility at one time.”
EMS Director Laurel Havens said the Cincinnati Avenue property is a little more than five acres. The current EMS central location sits on three acres.
Havens said the detention facility, vacant since 2020, must be renovated to better suit EMS needs.
Stoutermire said the two-lane Court Street viaduct, built in 1905, presents problems for EMS vehicles.
“It has a weight capacity of 10 tons (20,000 pounds), and our ambulances are 15,000 pounds,” she said. “They traverse that viaduct every day, all day long.”
Ambulances get caught in viaduct congestion when a train goes through and they cannot cross Broadway or Okmulgee Avenue, she said.
Deputy Mayor Derrick Reed said called the proposed move “a win-win for the community.”
“Just think if you’re in Ward III or IV and the train is on the track, the ambulance can be stuck in the middle of the backup traffic over the viaduct,” Reed said.
The proposed new site is east of the Columbus Street overpass. For many years, it was the site of Sequoyah Elementary, which later housed Muskogee Little Theatre. That building was torn down in 2019.
The 10-bed Muskogee County Juvenile Detention Center opened in 2015 after moving from a facility on Shawnee Bypass. The facility was closed in 2020 under a new state law cutting the number of beds funded by the Oklahoma Juvenile Authority.
EMS also has two substations in Muskogee, as well as substations in Haskell, Fort Gibson, Warner and Webbers Falls.
Muskogee Board of County Commissioners Chairman Kenny Payne said the county is working with EMS “to see what the possibilities are.”
“If what we’re looking at comes to pass, I believe it would be very mutually beneficial to EMS and to the county, and also to the constituents,” Payne said.
Stoutermire said the plans are in the infancy stages of seeking funding.
“I hate to put a timeframe on it because if there is a lot of momentum things can happen quickly,” Stoutermire said. “If it takes a while to get those pieces.”