LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — The plan for a new men’s prison in Lincoln County would represent a dramatic change for a now rural section of the county between Canton and Harrisburg. An emergency like a medical episode, fire or disturbance isn’t a matter of if, but when. The plan is for the prison to serve as a replacement for most of the State Penitentiary that now stands in Sioux Falls.

“As an emergency manager, it won’t affect me an awful lot, because I work with all the first responders in the county … we’re kind of waiting to hear more details from the state, too, as to how self-contained they may be or self-sufficient in regards to medical needs,” said Harold Timmerman, director of emergency management for Lincoln County.

But it’s not like construction on the prison will finish anytime soon. According to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, 2028 is the estimated date for that. In the meantime, Timmerman looks at possibilities with the variables he knows.

“If there’s medical needs, we could bring paramedic ambulances to that site should we need to,” he said. “We have paramedic ambulances in Canton and Lennox both.”

He says Harrisburg, however, does not have paramedic ambulances. But 2028 is a long time from the present day, at least when looking at a community’s development.

“Harrisburg is growing real, really fast, and so far their main ambulance service comes out of Sioux Falls as does Tea’s, and once in a while Lennox and Canton have to cover those towns,” Timmerman said.

Lincoln County Commissioner Joel Arends says a question he’s hearing is who would provide emergency response services: local agencies or the state. KELOLAND News brought that question to a state DOC spokesperson as well as the office of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, but as of early Wednesday evening had not heard back.