WEST, TX (KCEN) – It's been nearly a year since the devastating blast took their building, their equipment, and four good men.
April 17th 2013, is a day the West community will not forget, but one that brought them closer together… especially the West EMS crew.
"You know, 2013 was a bad year, but we're starting 2014 hopefully in a new home," EMS Director of Operations Tom Marek said. "It's a slow process, but we're slowly getting there."
On Monday Marek walked us through the new EMS building currently under construction. The 10,000 sq. foot building is being built at the same location as the last one, and on the same slab.
Marek says they had hoped to have been in the building by now, but a few construction issues tied up the process about a month. But in two weeks, they're hoping to call the new building home.
"Reality is finally setting in," Marek said. "All the plumbing, electricity and cabinets should be finished sometime next week." Marek also says the EMS building will be the first commercial building to re-open at ground zero after the blast.
While the building is the same size as the old one, there are some improvements. Marek says they reduced the number of offices from five to three so they could add a day room for the volunteers to relax in.
They also cut back the kitchen to add another sleeping quarters. The new building can now sleep six volunteers, enough to man all three ambulances.
But most importantly, Marek says the addition to the training room is what will bring the men and women even closer. "That's where all four of them were at prior to the blast," Marek said.
One of the training room walls they plan to make a memorial to the four who died trying to help others. Their pictures, plaques and a memorial flag that they signed before the explosion will be hung so that all current and new members can remember the heroes. "That way they're always with us," he said.
Marek says most of the cost of construction is covered by insurance, but they have to rely on donations to help fill the building with furniture and EMS equipment.
If you would like to help West's EMS rebuild, you can send monetary donations to:
P.O. Box 461
West, TX 76691
Donations can also be made at the West banks under the EMS funds.