Gold Cross’ new digs to be operational by January 2019, open house possibly in spring

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The sounds of ongoing construction broke through a quiet November morning as Gold Cross Ambulance continues to see ongoing work on its new home Tuesday morning.

What only seemed like a couple months ago since its groundbreaking, the site of Gold Cross’ new $2.2 million facility at 18th Avenue and 5th Street NW has progressed into a 7,600 square-foot structure with multiple rooms already laid out for insulation and additional construction work.

Despite several setbacks caused by inclement weather, Gold Cross anticipates its team members moving into the new facilities by late January 2019, according to Kristopher Keltgen, operations manager/facilities project lead for Gold Cross in Austin, and it was previously projected that the new facility could add upward of 12 to 14 staff members between Albert Lea and Austin within the next several months.

Kristopher Keltgen, operations manager/facilities project lead for Gold Cross in Austin, walks through the new Austin garage as work continues.

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The large ambulance bays that were newly built can accommodate up to four ambulances, and new training and education spaces were also created. Keltgen shared that there would be some rooms where staff who commute to Austin to work, and need a place to stay after 12-hour shifts or because of bad weather, could also be found in the new station.

“We are adapting to a changing workforce,” he said. “Many people used to work in the communities they live, but now many commute to town. We want to be able to provide that flexibility even if some of our team don’t live in town.”

There will still be work left to complete such as landscaping and grating, but Keltgen said that the facilities anticipates having a community open house sometime in the spring.

Another aspect of the project was that majority of the contractors and resources to build the new facility were all locally-based from communities in Albert Lea, Austin, Rochester and Fairmont.

The garage itself will have several bays for ambulances to house the three vehicles in Austin.

“We tried to use as many local contractors as possible,” Keltgen said. “We want to be good stewards about that.”

Austin previously owned Austin Ambulance Services before Gold Cross purchased them in 1996, according to a previous story. Since then, Gold Cross had been housed in different parts of town such as the old fire hall, before its current station at 1010 Oakland Avenue West, which is in a residential area and was not considered to be conducive to the services that Gold Cross sought to provide.

The new station was also created in mind to be in service for a lifespan of 45 to 50 years, Keltgen said, and that it could easily be adaptive to future innovations in emergency services and technology in healthcare down the road. With call volumes reaching an average of 4,500 per year, the new facilities could not have come at a better time.

As for whether any of the current Gold Cross crews had stopped in to take a gander at their future home, Keltgen said that there was “excitement.”

“They’re ecstatic,” he said. “The current facilities aren’t built for the future and they’re happy about this. We hope that this facility will show our commitment to the community, and that it grows alongside the community.”