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Manteca Ambulance adds station
Airport Way location reduces response times
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Manteca Ambulance CEO Dana Solomon shows his pride in the new Station 52 on North Airport Way that opens with additional regional service today . - photo by GLENN KAHL
It’s a new ambulance station – Station 52 – that promises to shorten the emergency response times for Manteca Ambulance between Lathrop and Manteca, serving 3,600 residents of Del Webb and surrounding neighborhoods.

Paramedic Supervisor Jonathon Mendoza and Paramedic Mathew Lopez are scheduled to launch the new service at 7 a.m. today.

The new emergency medical response facility is located on Airport Way just north of Louise Avenue and is adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.   It is capable of housing two paramedic ambulances along with living quarters for a crew of two who will staff the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week on scheduled work cycles.  Paramedic and EMT interns will add to the staff at the facility.

The main two-story station is located in the 200 block of East Center Street houses  four ambulances and upstairs living quarters for EMTs and paramedics 24 hours a day.  The Lathrop station was opened in 1993 and is located on J Street.

Ambulance CEO Dana Solomon said the nice thing about the new Airport Way station is that the crew can easily back up both the downtown Manteca and the Lathrop stations when an additional ambulance is requested.  

Solomon said the station had a price tag of about $600,000, much less than the estimated million dollar plus cost of a station that had been planned six years ago across from the Manteca Unified School District offices.

The one-and-a-half acre parcel had portions deeded to the South San Joaquin Irrigation District for its pipeline and another portion to the city that will eventually widen Airport Way to six lanes.

The new facility has been sound-proofed with double windows that allows the medics a quiet atmosphere where they can sleep without interruption.  When a call comes into the station in the middle of the night the radio and interior room lights will be automatically activated.

It boasts three separate bedrooms, a kitchen, and a small living room.  A “mud room” is just inside the back door where staffers can remove soiled uniforms and boots when they return from a call. The open space to the rear of the station is going to develop into a vegetable garden for the use of staff members and possibly those in need from the excesses.  

The rural location of the station demands security cameras that will lend a level of protection for the staff members when they are on site or out on a medical call in the community.

The Manteca ambulance service was originally a completely volunteer operation that was initiated through the efforts of the Manteca Junior Chamber of Commerce – The Manteca Jaycees – in 1951.

They put a borrowed ambulance in a city parade to draw the attention of the citizenry to the need of a medical transport service in the community.  There were critical delays in getting ambulance response to major injury accidents from Stockton for not only Manteca but also Ripon and Escalon.

Low-cost membership was offered to citizens through subscription booths that were set up on street corners in the downtown business district – a ride for anyone in a family for a year was only $3.  It was a time when those injured in traffic mishaps often waited in the street for an hour until an ambulance arrived on the scene.

Memberships could also be purchased at the chamber of commerce office, The Ripon Record and at the Escalon Police Department during November of each year.

The Jaycees campaign to purchase an ambulance was a success. Its operation was soon turned over to a newly formed Manteca Volunteer Ambulance Service.  As a non-profit corporation, it had a nine-member board of directos.

A group of volunteer drivers trained in first-aid served the ambulance operation on a 24-hour call.  For many years the chief driver was Charles Bergthold of Bergthold Mortuary where the ambulance was housed at the corner of Center and Maple streets.  Other drivers included George Lauritson and David Vest.  Variety store owner Lauritson succumbed to a heart attack when he backed his late model Oldsmobile ambulance into the garage after responding to three back-to-back fatal accidents in a row.

By 1954 the cost of operation of the fledgling service was just under $4,000 a year that covered one driver and clerical wages along with gas, oil, insurance and licenses – contrasting with today’s busy family of professionals.

Today Manteca Ambulance Service responds to medical emergencies and requests for transfers throughout the county.  A second ambulance division serves Tuolumne County residents.