(KCEN) – They lost their building, their equipment, ambulances, and even the lives of four volunteers. The April 17th fertilizer plant explosion rocked the small the community of West, and left their EMS having to rebuild from the ground up.
"We've had a lot of ups and downs with some hurricanes and natural disaster. Then April 17th brought us even closer. It's the first time we've ever lost anybody," operations director for West EMS Tom Marek said.
EMS crews are currently staying in a small trailer that only has two beds and two recliners that EMT volunteers sleep on. So, Marek says they're excited about construction starting on the new building.
Construction for the new EMS building started about three weeks ago, and as of Monday the shell of the building is already standing. The new building is being constructed on the foundation of the old building and will be the exact same size at 10,000 square feet.
Marek says his crew can also expect to see some changes. There will be less office space and larger sleeping quarters. A new day room with couches and TVs will also be added. But more importantly, Marek says there will be a memorial wall built in the classroom for the four volunteers who died.
"Any of current volunteers will still have their memories, and it's two fold," Marek said. "Our new members coming in, they'll actually know who we're talking about. They'll always be with us in our building."
Marek says insurance is paying for the new $600,000 building, but only paying for a small portion of the costs to refurnish the building with beds, appliances and medical equipment. That's why Marek says there will be a fundraiser on November 16th, the expected date of completion for the building.
Volunteers are working to put together a BBQ dinner, street dance and other activities like bouncy houses, a dunk tank and mechanical bull to help raise money for West EMS and the new building.
To find out more information about the benefit (click here).