A new Magen David Adom station in Ashdod was dedicated Friday in what the organization hopes is the first of many. The need for a new station arose after the existing MDA station on Rehov Zalman Aran, built in the 1950s, was no longer able to meet the growing needs of the city's residents. The old station's location in the city center also hindered ambulance movement. "It was a difficult location to dispatch ambulances from, as the congestion and traffic pattern made it difficult," said MDA's Deputy Director of Construction, Alon Freedman. MDA's Ashdod station provides services to approximately half a million people in the area from Gesher Yavne to Beit Kama Junction, including communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. A fleet of 15 standard ambulances and mobile ICUs work out of the station in round-the-clock shifts. The building's plans placed special emphasis on comfortable and aesthetic work surroundings. In addition, its new location is ideal for reaching all sections of the city and the Ashdod-Ashkelon Highway, said MDA spokesman Yeroham Mandola. The overall cost amounted to $2.5 million, said Freedman. The station was the fruit of laborious efforts and donations by the American Friends of MDA and the Ashdod Municipality. The facilities include a room for ambulance drivers, a volunteers' recreation room, blood services and treatment rooms, and a reinforced dispatching center. "The station is build to withstand conventional and nonconventional attacks," said Rabbi Daniel Allen, executive vice president of the American Friends of MDA. "It is a precursor of what is to come elsewhere in Israel, particularly in Jerusalem," Allen continued. "We are working on blueprints and laying the groundwork for a state-of-the-art MDA station in Jerusalem, at the current location," he said.