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Guilfoyle continues to grow at renovated building

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When David C. Sherman joined Guilfoyle Ambulance two decades ago, he became a member of a business with about 40 employees and a few ambulances in a well-suited, centrally located facility on Newell Street.

Today, the ambulance service employs 120 people, including 11 in management positions, and has a fleet of 26 vehicles, including 14 ambulances and five wheelchair vans. With all these people and rigs, the Newell Street headquarters, Guilfoyle’s home since 1974, “was bursting at its seams,” said Mr. Sherman, now the company’s general manager.

A move was necessary, and that came Jan. 4, when the company’s home became a much more spacious, remodeled and modernized structure on Faichney Drive. In a project with a cost approaching $2 million, the former Covidien building purchased from Tyco Health Care Group LP of Mansfield, Mass., has become Guilfoyle’s showplace.

“I’m in my glory down here,” said Charmaine G. Wright-Rowsam, president and chief executive officer. “I’m looking at this facility as an honor to my late husband to provide job opportunities and the future education of emergency medical technicians.”

Her late husband, Bruce M. Wright, was sole owner of the ambulance service from 1973 until he died suddenly on Nov. 12, 1993.

The company was named for Dennis E. Guilfoyle, an undertaker who began running a patient-transport service here about 105 years ago.

With all the comforts and conveniences provided in the new facility, on a street running south of and parallel to Coffeen Street, Mr. Sherman acknowledged one disadvantage: Newell Street offered a more central location in the city than the new facility. To compensate, the company is experimenting with a roving ambulance detail, he said. An ambulance travels in the Public Square sector and even parks at the old home on Newell Street, ready to respond to a call. When that rig is dispatched, a backup unit is sent to fill the Public Square patrol, he said.

On any given day, Guilfoyle can have up to about 45 people on duty, Mr. Sherman said. That includes two dispatchers per shift, EMTs, shift supervisors, drivers and mechanics. For their use are two lounges with flat-screen TVs and easy chairs, bunk rooms and shower facilities.

The 77,000-square-foot building provides enclosed parking for the service’s entire fleet, and a neighboring mechanic shop which, although now in operation, still awaits completion.

And the company expects half of the building to be an additional revenue source: the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center. There are two huge multipurpose rooms, the larger measuring 4,600 square feet, available for weddings, receptions, craft fairs and any other community events. A third room, 2,390 square feet, provides similar uses. The three rooms provide the potential for simultaneous and separate events with seating for up to 725 people with chairs and tables, or up to 1,575 without tables. Also in the convention center wing are two classrooms, restrooms and a vending area.

Booking for events is going well, Mr. Sherman said, even though advertising for availability is just now getting under way.

Anticipated revenue will fund future projects and expansion of the ambulance service, he said.

Rough drafts of how the former factory would be sectioned off were drawn up by Mr. Sherman and Jeffrey J. Call, director of administration, and were reviewed by Ms. Wright-Rowsam at weekly meetings before being presented to the project engineer, GYMO of Watertown.

Guilfoyle Ambulance Service is not the actual owner of the facility. Wright Brothers LLC — consisting of Bruce, Toby and Travis Wright, who all associated with the ambulance service — is the official property owner.

Mr. Sherman attributed Guilfoyle’s growth to three things: a contract with the federal government to maintain a presence at Fort Drum ranges during training, an overall increase in call volume and assumption of services formerly provided by discontinued volunteer units. In the latter case, Guilfoyle has satellite stations in Alexandria Bay and the town of Brownville.

Non-administrative personnel at Guilfoyle are represented by Service Employees International Union Local 200 United.



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