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North Fort Myers to get EMS substation

By Staff | Aug 1, 2017

North Fort Myers Fire District firefighters and Lee County EMS personnel won’t have to share a single crowded building anymore.

Lee County Emergency Medical Services will soon have its own substation on the same property as the fire station on Trail Dairy Circle.

The project will also allow EMS to be on call in northernmost Lee County, a sparsely populated but quickly growing area, for 24-hour shifts instead of the 12 hours they are now in sharing fire department facilities.

Lee County EMS Chief Benjamin Abes, who has been calling for a substation in that area for years, calls it a win for everyone.

“The North Fort Myers community is growing. We’ve been working with the fire district on ways we can address that growth. One of the issues that came up was the limited footprint they have at Trail Dairy,” Abes said. “An opportunity came up for us and the fire district to lease us a portion of the land and for the county to build a stand-alone station.”

The substation would be staffed 24-hours a day to improve nighttime responses in the area, Abes said. There would be a place for them to sleep, work and cook meals.

Currently, EMS personnel do not have a place to sleep overnight, with ambulance services having to come from further away, and firefighters having to perform lifesaving duties, if needed.

“It makes a dramatic impact in a number of those emergencies. We want to provide the best impact to the community,” Abes said. “Our daytime response would be mirrored at night with that substation.”

North Fort Myers Fire Chief Larry Rice said he has been looking forward to this for several years. With as many seniors as the area has with all the retirement communities, having 24-hour service is important.

“Instead of having the service here for 12 hours, we’ll have it for 24. I’m very happy about this. They could start this any day now and I look forward to this. It will be a great thing,” Rice said.

It is not known when construction is scheduled to begin, but once it does, the $750,000 project will take about seven months to complete.

County Commissioner Brian Hamman, who represents the area, said it will be money well spent to enhance the county’s relationship with the fire department.

“This is really good planning when you consider the growth projections in the area to make sure you can have the coverage you need,” Hamman said. “One of the most important jobs of a county commissioner is to plan for coming growth. This is a great way to plan for the future and make sure we have cooperation from the fire department and make sure when people call 911, they get there in a fast response time.”