St. Charles County Ambulance District improving response times

O’FALLON, Mo. - Paramedics in one of the area's fastest-growing cities are making a big move to speed up response times.

The O'Fallon, Missouri ambulance station on Terra Lane will split into two new locations in a couple of weeks at a cost of about $2.5 million, thanks in large part to the property tax increase voters approved in 2014 after a measure failed a year earlier.

The station on Terra Lane is a small ranch house which was converted to house ambulances and paramedics in the mid-1980s.

On Tuesday afternoon, a paramedic team there got a “trouble breathing” call in a neighborhood north of Highway P, more than 5 miles and 7 to 10 minutes away. On the way to the scene, they passed one of the two new stations which is only 2 miles and about 3 minutes from the scene.

“The goal of this reconfiguration of assets is to improve response times overall in the community,” said Kyle Gaines, St. Charles County Ambulance District. “When you stack resources on top of one another like we have them now, it takes longer to get to the outlying areas. We make it to the majority of our emergency calls between 5 and 8 minutes, which is where we need to be. But there’s always room for improvement.”

So the new Zone 5 south station on Mexico Road and the new north station off Highway P are replacing the old house on Terra Lane.

Terra Lane may soon become a one-way outer road along I-70 in a city that’s grown from about 15,000 people in the mid-80s when the house became an ambulance station -- to closer to 90,000 now.

The number of ambulance calls has doubled since 2005, with more than 4,400 last year (about 12 per day). The paramedics at the Terra Lane station responded to three calls in less than an hour when a Fox2/News 11 crew was there Tuesday.

“The ambulance district has been in existence for over four decades. Some of the stations that we currently have were acquired in the very early years of the district’s existence. This was one of them,” Gaines said.

The ambulance district is still going to use the old Terra Lane house. It’s going to be a hub for non-emergency patient transfers; transferring patients from one hospital to another, for example.