A Look Inside the WILCO North Campus EMS Facility
The BLGY-designed Williamson County (WILCO) North Campus is on a 40-acre site consisting of six new structures. The campus includes a 39,000 square foot EMS training facility that houses the WILCO EMS and HAZMAT main offices, a warehouse for emergency vehicle supplies as well as training and conference rooms.
We spoke with Mike Knipstein, EMS Director, about the new facility and how it is helping to support these crucial first responders.
BLGY: Prior to the new campus, where were your departments and personnel located, and how has the centralized location helped?
MK: Before the construction of our new facility, we were in four different buildings spread out across Georgetown. This facility allows us to consolidate all our administrative and support staff into one location. By consolidating all our divisions under one roof, it increases our efficiencies and leads to better communication amongst personnel. Also, the location of the building is close to our fleet maintenance and wireless communications facilities which further increases efficiencies.
BLGY: Tell us about the new training facilities within the building.
MK: In our training rooms, we conduct real-life training scenarios for high acuity, low occurrence calls. These are the types of calls that we do not encounter that often, but the care that we provide can mean life or death for the patient. In these simulations, we conduct training on advanced airway management, CPR calls, pediatric calls, complex medical calls and handling severely injured patients.
BLGY: These training areas are also called “wet rooms.” Give an example of what goes on in a wet room.
MK: The wet rooms allow us to perform more realistic training. Liquids and other materials can be placed on the ground or walls to simulate the environment of a real emergency. We can also audio and video record the simulation, which allows us to review the call with the caregivers and sharpen our skills. After each session, the wet room is hosed down and cleaned so it’s ready to go for the next training simulation. As far as I know, these rooms are one-of-a-kind to the Central Texas area.
BLGY: What other types of training happen at the new facility?
MK: We have a large multipurpose room that can accommodate 160 people. The space is used to host classes for our staff and other caregivers. This additional education has the potential to change the way pre-hospital medicine is done. The multipurpose room is available to other County departments as well.
BLGY: How does the new vehicle storage area increase the speed at which ambulances can be ready for service?
MK: Up to 20 ambulances can be stored under the new vehicle storage. The storage facility allows the ambulances to be sheltered from weather conditions and stored in a secure location. The addition of this dedicated space allows crews to change into another ambulance in a safer and quicker way. The WILCO Emergency Medical Services Paramedic staff responded to more than 30,000 incidents last year. Because of the close proximity to our fleet services building, crews can change into a new ambulance and have the ambulance needing repairs dropped off within minutes, which puts the ambulance back on the street and ready to care for patients quicker.