Riley County EMS holds ribbon cutting for new Leonardville station

Riley County unveiled the new EMS station Saturday. The public event included a ribbon cutting (Photo courtesy of Ian Hamilton)

 Riley County Emergency Medical Services hosted a ribbon cutting Saturday to present the new EMS station in Leonardville. The community was invited to watch the unveiling of the new station that aims to make the northern community safer. The station, at 506 E. Barton Road, will have a full time ambulance crew available 24 hours a day. 

Vivienne Leyva, public information officer for Riley County, said the station was in the works for a long time.

“The response times for ambulance services to get up to the northern parts of the county can be as long as 40 minutes, and that 40 minutes means a lot when you’re in need of life-saving care,” Leyva said. “They were able to — with the use of ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] and CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security] funding by the federal government — to build a new station out here that’s going to be staffed 24/7 and have a full time ambulance crew here to serve the residents of North County.”

John Ford, county commissioner of District 1, said this event was a result of four and a half years of planning. 

“We used dollars that came because of the pandemic to put the facility together,” Ford said. “I’m excited for everybody, and I think the community up north here is very excited about it too. I think it’s a good start. [There are] stories of people having to drive family members in their time of need into Manhattan, into the hospital. Obviously they’re not professionals in that setting so having a professional crew here to be able to do that, to take care of those emergency needs in trying times, is very important.” 

Greg McKinley, county commissioner of District 2, said he ran for county commission because Leonardville needed the EMS station.

“Once I got in there and got working on it, it slowly came together,” McKinley said. “In February of ‘22 we had a meeting in Leonardville for people to come and talk about what was needed, and I think that made an impression on the rest of it. … The rest of the commissioners and staff heard that the people had so many problems. A lot of people quit trying to call and if it got really bad, some people would throw people in the car and then drive them to Manhattan themselves cause they couldn’t wait for an ambulance.”

According to a Riley County news release, the total budget for the new station, which includes construction costs, materials, fixtures and a new ambulance, was $1.49 million.