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New ambulance facility coming to Bowman

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BOWMAN — Traffic jams outside and inside Bowman’s ambulance service building has prompted officials to consider sites for a new facility.

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Southwest Healthcare Services is already expanding its rural health clinic and long-term care facility as part of a $25 million project to replace its hospital. A new Bowman Ambulance Services garage will be part of the same revitalization effort, as the oil boom comes closer to town, said Galen Strand, the healthcare company’s board president.

“People coming into the emergency room have gone up dramatically in the last few years, so it’s important to plan,” Strand said.

The current ambulance building stands two-tenths of a mile away from Bowman County High School, and is nearby a day care center.

This can cause traffic problems for emergency personnel around 3 p.m., when school gets out, Bowman County Commissioner Ken Steiner said.

“I drove up (earlier this week) and looked and I thought, ‘Somebody could have an accident here,’” he said.

Though the city of Bowman does a good job of clearing away snow, Steiner said, county commissioners would like to see the building constructed along U.S. Highway 12, where crews clean first in the early morning.

Administered by Southwest Healthcare, the ambulance service recently purchased a third emergency vehicle to keep up with increased demand. However, the current ambulance building only has two garage bays, Strand said. Steiner said this necessitates parking one vehicle in front of the other.

“What happens if the one in front breaks down and the one in the back can’t get out?” Steiner asked.

New location options will likely be presented at the next Bowman County Commission meeting on July 1 by a site selection committee.

Southwest Healthcare secured a $320,000 Energy Impact Fund grant for construction, but will need about $400,000 for total costs, Steiner said.

To offset these costs, the city may use taxpayer money that goes to the ambulance service already. In 2013, Bowman residents approved a three-mill tax levy to support Bowman’s ambulance operations.

Outgoing Bowman County state’s attorney Andrew Weiss will interpret the legality of using that tax money as one of his last acts in office. Weiss announced his resignation to take another job earlier this month. Steiner expects that Weiss will approve the funding.

When a new building is constructed, there will be four garage bays for four vehicles, according to Southwest’s preliminary plans.

It will encompass 6,500 square feet, dwarfing the present First Street Northwest location. There will also be a section for an emergency medical technician and driver training.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, Bowman County Commission chairman Rick Braaten said that the current ambulance building is owned by the county. It will be put up for sale once vacated, he said.

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