By Wally Kennedy
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A groundbreaking ceremony for a new METS ambulance station in the south part of Joplin will take place at 10:30 a.m. today near East 32nd Street and Ferguson Avenue.
Jason Smith, director of the Metro Emergency Transport System, said construction of the two-bay ambulance station could begin later this week.
“There is an open lot we have purchased behind the convenience store at 32nd Street and Ferguson,” Smith said. “We hope to move dirt by the end of this week.”
A METS ambulance had been housed at Freeman Hospital East, 932 E. 34th St. In response to the May 22, 2011, tornado, Freeman informed METS that it needed the space where the ambulance was based. At that time, METS moved its south-side ambulance to the Newton County Ambulance District station at the southwest corner of 42nd Street and Hearnes Boulevard.
Smith said METS and Newton County Ambulance work together to provide ambulance services to the “overlap area” that both agencies serve. The dual-coverage area is south of 32nd Street and north of Interstate 44. Smith said the agencies are not in competition with each other in the area.
“While we were housed at their station, we took turns responding to calls in the overlap area,” he said.
Smith said the new station should be completed by the end of the year.
“We could move into it in a couple of months,” he said.
METS OBSERVED its 30th anniversary earlier this year. The service began as Joplin Area Emergency Medical Services Corp., or JEMS, with a ribbon-cutting on May 17, 1982. The private, not-for-profit operation was launched with a cooperative agreement among the city and what then were Joplin’s three hospitals. The ambulance service before that had been operated by the Joplin Police Department.
IT BECAME METS in 1997 when JEMS merged with the Webb City Ambulance Service. METS serves the western half of Jasper County, with stations at 625 S. Virginia Ave. and at the Webb City fire station. Director Jason Smith said METS is now a self-supporting service.