Planners OK permit for Riggs

July 3, 2013

The Planning Commission approved a permit that will allow Riggs Ambulance Service to respond faster to medical calls in Los Banos.

On Wednesday the ambulance company serving Merced County was granted a use permit for 701 Second St. The site will allow Riggs to add a second 24-hour ambulance.

"The station is really going to be our Westside deployment center. So as the community grows, as we add more resources, it's really going to be a critical component," said Steve Melander, general manager of Riggs Ambulance Service.

The ambulance service's current Los Banos location is on Chestnut Street. Riggs keeps two ambulances at the location, one that is on call 24 hours and another that is only available during the daytime. If additional emergency vehicles are needed, response times are delayed because the company calls in resources from outside the city.

Tracey Rosin, Planning Commission chairwoman, said she is grateful Riggs is adding a station in town.

"I'm glad that you're here," said Rosin, before jokingly adding that she hopes the hearing is the only time she encounters the ambulance company.

Commissioner Susan Toscano asked how Riggs will exit the second street facility. Melander said the building has gates that can be opened manually if needed. He said he wouldn't want a completely electric system.

"We want to prevent any possible barriers to a fast response time," he said. "It's going to be power-operated with manual override."

Riggs repairs its own vehicles, but Melander said that repairs will be done in Merced and not on the Second Street property.

Melander said Riggs is planning to host an open house at the Second Street location next month.

Merced County's contract with Riggs is set to expire Aug. 31.

The county Board of Supervisors is conducting a bidding process for ambulance services in the county.

Riggs has served Los Banos since the 1950s.

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