Jordan Valley emergency responders to get new digs

A $110,000 loan will fund an ambitious new project to make emergency services personnel in one of Oregon’s most remote regions more versatile. (Photo courtesy of Marta Stoddart).

JORDAN VALLEY – The Jordan Valley Ambulance Service is getting a $110,000 loan to build a new ambulance services center in downtown Jordan Valley.

The loan is from the Eastern Oregon Business Development Loan Fund.

“We’re excited about it, it’s been a long wait and things are finally starting to take shape,” said Marta Stoddart, one of three emergency medical technicians currently volunteering for the service.

“You can see a vision, it’s going to happen it’s just a matter of finalizing,” said Stoddart, who has been a volunteer since 1999. Construction of the building is planned later in the summer.

The new building will help the EMTs be more prepared for calls of all kinds. According to Stoddart, the service currently receives around 60 calls a year.

The majority of the calls the Jordan Valley Ambulance Service receives come from car, ATV, or horse accidents as well as trauma from ranching accidents. So far this year, medics have handled around 30 calls.

Without proper headquarters, the service’s monthly EMT and board meetings take place the second Wednesday of the month in the city hall. The EMTs wash their uniforms at home, and respond to calls from home, meaning added response times.

The new facility will include a meeting space, laundry room, showers, and beds for the volunteers. These new additions will ensure that EMTs are prepared to take any kind of call no matter the time of day.

Now, the EMTs typically operate out of their homes in Jordan Valley, parking the ambulances out front of their homes while they go about ranching.

When supplies are needed, the EMTs drive to the blue shed that currently serves as the headquarters in downtown Jordan Valley off of U.S. 95.

Another bonus with the new building is security, an issue that came up multiple times in interviews with the EMTs.

By having a garage for the ambulances on site, the EMTs won’t have to worry about vandalism or break-ins.

The estimated cost of the new building is $205,000 and it is scheduled to open next March.

The ambulance nonprofit needed the loan through the Morrow Development Corp. because it doesn’t make enough money to fund it. Once the building is completed, the ambulance will begin paying back the $110,000 loan in monthly payments.

The service is volunteer based and doesn’t have any full-time employees. The three current volunteers are trained as intermediate EMTs and they will soon be joined by four more EMTs who are finishing training.

A volunteer board of five oversees the nonprofit. Current board members are President Robyn Easterday, Vice President Marta Stoddart, Treasurer Russell Martin, Secretary Kourtney Miller, and Director Scott Rairigh.

The service covers roughly 7,500 square miles and it can sometimes take more than an hour for medics to reach a scene.

If the victims require immediate care, Life Flight is called for a quicker response time and the victims are usually taken to one of the regional hospitals or, in life-threatening situations, a trauma center in Boise.

Jordan Valley Mayor Marie Kershner said she hopes the new building will “bring awareness to the service and shed more light on [the Jordan Valley Ambulance Service]” for the people of Jordan Valley and beyond.

While the loan for the new building will help improve services to the people in the area, the nonprofit the service is largely dependent on donations.

“They are a reflection of a challenge that’s happening throughout the state, not just in Jordan Valley,” said Senator Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, in a phone call. “They face an incredible challenge, often assisting people who have run off the road, some people who don’t have insurance, who aren’t able to pay.”

Roberta “Bobbi” Stoddart, 74, has been with ambulance service since it was created in 1962. For her, the loan for the new building means that the EMTs will “be able to be there when God points us in the right direction.”

“Life is fragile, handle with care,” she said.

CORRECTION. This story has been updated. The Jordan Valley Ambulance Service started in 1962, not 1977 as previously reported. The foundation for the new building hasn’t yet been poured as reported. The Enterprise apologizes for the errors.

Carolyn Agrimis: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.