BONITA Springs, Fla.- Lee County paramedics and Bonita Springs firefighters will soon live under the same roof again. Today, both sides agreed that EMS will move out of three hotels and back into Bonita Springs fire houses.
The ambulances have been stationed at the Hampton Inn and two other hotels along U.S. 41 because of cost. The county said it was a cheaper route for them to take, but both decided today's decision is in the best interest of the public's safety.
"I'm going to go celebrate, I am going to go buy a bottle of champagne on that one," said resident Robin Burke.
The decision to move Lee County ambulances back into Bonita Springs fire houses is a welcome one, especially for those in east Bonita.
"We are all the way at the end of the world and having an ambulance stationed all the way on 41, hurt us. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for an ambulance to get to my neighbors," said Burke.
The move stems from the fire district's request to start charging the county $200,000 dollars rent per year to stay at fire stations. It used to be free, so they moved into hotels in October..
"First of all, I think to begin with bringing Lee County ambulances back to the fire houses is exactly what should happen. I was just as surprised as a lot of people that that even occurred," said County Commissioner Larry Kiker.
The hotels made a deal with the county for a six month period. WINK News was able to get a copy of the hotel cost. For paramedics to stay at the Hampton Inn, it would cost more than $21,300, the Homewood Suites, almost $18,000 and the La Quinta Inn a little over $18,000, that's a total of $57,492.
"It seems like a logical agreement that whatever they are paying at the hotels, they will pay here in Bonita Springs and it will serve the community in the best possible manner," said Chief Joseph Daigle.
Now, the move out date has not been decided yet because the county has to arrange for moving trucks to come in and move the equipment.