New ambulance station opens
Gold Cross dedicates Waupaca facility
By Robert Cloud
Gold Cross Ambulance Service dedicated its new station on Lakeside Parkway Friday, Sept. 27.
A plaque at the station’s entrance expresses appreciation for the Tomaras family.
Gold Cross and Waupaca Area Ambulance merged in March 2013.
Barry Tomaras had been the owner of Waupaca Area Ambulance since 1973.
“When I took over, it was Holly Ambulance,” Tomaras said. “It was run by the funeral home.”
Tomaras’ first ambulance was an International Travelall with a bubble light on the roof.
“To load a patient, you had to turn a key, roll down the window and pull down the gate,” Tomaras said.
Over time, Waupaca Area Ambulance grew from one ambulance, six employees and 800 runs to five ambulances, 30 employees and 2,400 runs per year.
When he began the ambulance service, Tomaras worked as an EMT, then as a paramedic.
“I was one of the regular crew,” he said. “We were working 24-hour shifts when we opened the building.”
In 1984, Waupaca Area Ambulance built its first station.
The original building was 30-by-75-feet.
“We built at least four additions since then and have remodeled,” Tomaras said.
Initially, the ambulance station was the only developed property on the road, other than the park and cemetery.
“They let me name the road,” he said, regarding what is now known as Lakeside Parkway.
When asked about the new station, Tomaras said, “It’s beautiful.”
“I think they did a great job,” he said. “What we had was over 30 years old. I assume this will be here for a long time, too.”
Mark Fredrickson is CEO of Gold Cross Ambulance Service.
He has been with the the service for more than 30 years.
“I was a paramedic for a long time,” Fredrickson said.
He was promoted to operatoins director in 2000 and became CEO in 2013.
Gold Cross covers portions of Waupaca, Winnebago, Calumet and Outagamie counties and serves an area of about 900 square miles.
“That’s a lot of real estate in there,” Fredrickson said.
Gold Cross has 11 stations, 18 ambulances and 145 employees who are projected to respond to 23,500 calls in 2019.
ThedaCare and Ascension are the joint owners in the nonprofit Gold Cross Ambulance Service.
Fredrickson said the new station is 2,600 square feet and cost just under $600,000.
“We’re really making a commitment to the surrounding area to provide quality ambulance service,” Fredrickson said. “We wouldn’t have build the station if we were not committed.”
Fritz Piette is the general contractor for the new ambulance station.
He said the station has two ambulance bays because “they are planning for the future.”
The floors are heated throughout the building, in addition to forced air heating.
The station also has sleeping quarters and significantly different building codes than a typical commercial building.
“In a retail center, a partition wall would not need a two-hour fire rating,” according to Eric Peters, the project manager with Fred J. Piette Company.
Steve Radich, the project manager with Gold Cross, said the design of Waupaca’s ambulance station took the wooded setting into consideration.
“When we looked at the outside of the building, we used subdued, earthy tones,” Radich said. “We wanted to show respect for the forest.”