ACSO, EMS update needs during budget workshop

The Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office and the EMS outlined their needs for a rapidly growing county during county commissioners’ budget workshop on June 25.

When expansion of the county jail is completed, it will have a 250-bed capacity, Sheriff David Soward told commissioners. If the county uses the extra beds to house out-of-county prisoners, it will bring in extra funds to the county, he noted.

The department will need five additional corrections officers – four on shift and one on support staff. There is also a need for another bailiff when the Justice Center opens. Currently there are five but seven are needed to handle all the courts.

The sheriff’s department now has eight dispatchers, one operator and one supervisor. There is a need for three dispatchers per shift due to the volume of calls now, Soward reported. The department needs to go up to ten dispatchers in 2019 and two more in 2020. The new center, he explained, is equipped for the future and built for four dispatchers who dispatch for many agencies.

“It is tremendous work for two people,” Soward noted. They almost need more on the 9-1-1 shift. Atascosa County has the largest area within the AACOG area on 9-1-1 calls, he told commissioners.

There is a need to increase the body armor budget a bit and the current phone system is obsolete, he noted.

Sheriff Soward complimented District Attorney Audrey Louis, stating that the DA’s office had eight prisoners in jail and she has done a great job to get them processed.

EMS director Edward Dugosh informed commissioners the county has eight paramedics and eight EMTs budgeted. There is a need to advance services to a higher level of care, he explained, stating $16,000 per year is needed to advance EMTS to the level of paramedics. The state required them to purchase a new defibrillator. Currently there is nothing set aside for part-time help. If a major disaster occurs, an account needs to be set up for that as well, he explained.

Currently the EMS is using used ambulances and there is a need for better equipment. They are requesting $300,000. Of this, $200,000 is for a new ambulance and $50,000 for the equipment on it. They need three more defibrillators and need to update three more, he noted.

Currently personnel are paid $10/hour and increases are needed for those who qualify. Part-time rates also need to be raised, he added. Renovations are needed at the Pleasanton station which has no bathrooms. Other changes are needed for safety. They donated a vehicle to Pct. 3 Commissioner Eliseo Perez and need to replace it.

Commissioners heard requests from other county departments before adjourning shortly after 12:30 p.m.

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