This week marks one year since the Pettis County Ambulance District took over ambulance services in Pettis County. And from its humble beginnings – with meetings taking place in a borrowed conference room at the Pettis County Emergency Management Agency – the district has grown into a $3.8 million dollar operation handling more than 4,200 calls for service.

The idea for a district was formed by a group of local citizens who believed the area needed a dedicated ambulance service. After voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund the new district, a board of directors was elected to begin the monumental process of creating a high-quality ambulance district from the ground up. Current Administrator Mike Gardner was brought on in January 2013, nearly a year before operations officially began, spending those months acquiring equipment and hiring personnel.

“When we started operations at midnight on Oct. 1, 2013, we were still using the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Fighters Department building as a temporary headquarters,” Gardner said. “And now we’re in a beautiful building downtown, we’ve recently added a sixth ambulance to our shifts, finished our first training course and are setting out long-range plans for the future. We’ve come a long way.”

The building – located at the corner of Fourth Street and Kentucky Avenue – required a complete remodel, costing approximately $420,000. The headquarters now boasts a large ambulance bay, bunk rooms, a day room, medical supply areas and offices. Currently the district has 30 full-time staff and four office staff, including Gardner.

“I think everyone, from the staff to the board, has worked incredibly hard to make sure the district got up and running last year,” he said. “And one of the things I’m most proud of, it was up and running so smoothly. The transition to our services went as well as we hoped for and we want to continue that pace.”

Looking ahead, Gardner is working with the PCAD Board of Directors to find land to build an official headquarters. The current building downtown will still be utilized, Gardner said. Because of its central location it will likely remain a PCAD satellite hub, though no formal plans have been made yet.

“We’re also working on an equipment replacement plan,” Gardner added. “We’re putting money aside now so when those big purchases come up, we’re ready for them.”

Financially the district looks solid. With about $4.5 million in sales-tax revenue collected since its start, PCAD is continually operating under budget.

“The first PCAD office was just a rented space – four walls and some carpet and not much else” Gardner said. “And look where we are now. I’m very proud of this district and I hope Pettis County is proud too. We’ll continue to offer the high level of ambulance and emergency medical services that people have come to expect from us.”

(Courtesy of Pettis County Ambulance District)