A former volunteer for South Jeff Ambulance, Barry L. Waite knew the importance of the Town of Watertown Ambulance Service.
So the owner of Waite Toyota figured he should help his new neighbor when the ambulance squad moved last fall into a new office down the road on outer Washington Street.
Its a great service, Mr. Waite said before touring the facility during an open house Saturday.
Mr. Waites car dealership donated $2,500 to the ambulance service and successfully applied for a matching grant from the Toyota Motor Corp. to help the service. On Saturday, he found out that the donations were used as a down payment for a second ambulance the squad purchased a few months ago.
Since moving in, the ambulance squad improved service on the towns southeast side with the new facility, in the former Grenadier Construction Corp. building at 18535 Route 11.
In particular, the move has helped it respond to calls from Samaritan Summit Village, the 288-bed elder-care facility that opened recently on Route 11.
Calls have increased about 38 percent since then, ambulance squad President David C. Roof said. The ambulance service has responded to 235 calls so far this year, he said. The squad provides 24-hour service for the assisted-living and skilled-nursing facility.
With the new site, response times on the southeast side have been reduced from a worst-case scenario of 10 minutes to about a minute, Mr. Roof said.
The ambulance service is leasing the space from William F. Caprara and his family. It includes a garage with room enough for two ambulances, a lounge, kitchenette, restroom, bunk space for members and two offices.
Several businesses, individuals and ambulance service members donated materials and furniture for the new office. All of the work to renovate the building was done by volunteers.
The nonprofit ambulance squad has provided service to town of Watertown residents since branching off from the Fire Department in 2008. It now has two ambulances a 2001 Ford Medic Master and a Ford Medtec and plans to purchase a third vehicle
The ambulance squad shares space in the Fire Departments satellite station on Route 3 on the towns west side, where it serves Salmon Run Mall and other retail businesses. The ambulance squad will continue to operate out of there after the Fire Department soon vacates the site for a new fire station at Route 12F and County Route 202, Mr. Roof said.
Under a three-year contract that expires in December 2014, the town is paying the ambulance squad $150,000 per year for the service. The town also provided a $50,000 grant to help get the ambulance service off the ground.
Providing around-the-clock service 365 days a year, the squad consists of 15 paid and five volunteer staff members.
This year, it has a $365,000 annual budget that comes from user billing, fundraising campaigns and donations. Since 2008, the ambulance service has gone on more than 5,000 calls.