Mold causes emergency workers to relocate in Ottawa

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OTTAWA, Kan. -- The Franklin County Health Department has shut down one of Ottawa's ambulance stations after finding mold. The building houses firefighters and EMTs.

"It's a health issue. It's important we take care of our people," EMS Chief Nick Robbins said.

Robbins found mold in the building about a week ago. The facility had some water damage from a roof leak in the kitchen and bedroom area where six firefighters and paramedics were living.

"We needed to get people out of here," Robbins said.

"Mold is an allergen, and it can cause health issues," Director of Public Health Director Mary Ransom said. "We want to make sure we are on top of those issues."

Robbins says they immediately moved the employees out and into a station a few miles north in Ottawa.

"This won't have any affect really on the responses to the community," Robbins said. "We are still running the same amount of ambulances, same personnel. The only difference is we are coming out of a different building."

Robbins says it will add about two minutes to their response time in the county, but the health department said they had no choice in the matter.

"It's always important that the health and welfare of our employees comes first," Ransom said. Whether anyone has an illness -- we can't take the chance. Now we know there's mold and we value our employees; we can't take the chance."

The Franklin County Health Department says they have had no reports of employees being sick from the mold.

No word yet on how long it will take to make the building safe again.

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