PARRISH -- By mid-May, Manatee County Emergency Medical Services is expected to have positioned its first ambulance in the fast-growing Parrish area.
Parrish Fire District commissioners unanimously approved a shared facility agreement Tuesday evening with Manatee County, which will allow the ambulance and its crew to move into the Parrish firehouse at 14132 U.S. 301 N.
Ben Jordan, president of the Parrish Civic Association, spoke in favor of the ambulance and its promise to cut critical minutes off response time.
"We are totally behind it," Jordan said of the more than 300 dues-paying members of the association.
Palmetto was one of the first communities to craft a shared facility agreement with EMS in 1987, and other fire districts have followed, Fire Chief Michael Johnson said.
"I think it's a good thing and a win-win situation for the community," Johnson said.
Initially, some members of the fire district commission thought it might make the firehouse a little cramped sharing space with EMS.
Fire Commissioner Sawyer Ramsey said she checked the facility and thought it would work without hardship for anyone.
Fire Commission Chairman Michael Boice said, in addition to faster response team, having EMS in Parrish will provide more first responder helping hands where needed, and help build teamwork between ambulance crew members and firefighters.
Fire Commissioner Edward Chitty, who has a 25-year track record with the district, including time as a volunteer, made the motion to approve the shared facility agreement. Commissioner Kevin Webb offered a quick second, and all five commissioners voted their approval.
Robert L. Smith, director of the Manatee County Public Safety Department, and Paul DiCicco, acting chief of the Manatee Public Safety Department/EMS, attended the meeting.
"We are hoping to have the ambulance operational by the first or second week of May," Smith said. "This was the last piece of the puzzle. Thank you again. We are looking forward to this."
The fire district is planning to erect a prefabricated building with four vehicle bays on the west side of its property where it can park vehicles, and clear some of the congestion on the back side of the firehouse.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.