Last week we left the EMS story with Jimmy Day transitioning the three EMS stations to county paid personnel and county operated ambulances and medical protocols. The cities’ share was to still provide the housing for the operations. As the county hired and placed full – time on call medics for your safety it was necessary to provide sleeping quarters for them. It takes a full – time crew of 4 to man the station 24/7. They must be available the same as you would envision a fire station in a big city. Heart attacks, strokes and other serious illnesses need fast response. Also, the EMS must be available for quick response to wrecks and accidents. Our EMS works closely with the local fire departments to be available to respond to their calls.
The county’s payroll for each EMS station easily exceeds $250,000 in payroll, benefits and taxes. We always have a licensed and trained paramedic on every run but this was not the case in the beginning. It took time to work up a budget to sustain this level. Each unit has roughly $100,000 in onboard medicines, lifesaving equipment, onboard oxygen system and a sophisticated hydraulic lift patient stretcher system. The stretcher system was necessary because sometimes our people are called upon to pick up an … ahem … rather heavy person. Its cost was $300,000. But it will save injuries to EMS personnel and patients. A new ambulance costs $240,000 which must be replaced every 4 years. The system is required to have on staff an MD who is the EMS Medical Director to authorize medical protocols.
So, you can see that the cost of maintaining an EMS system is substantial.
At present it is costing the taxpayers approximately 6 cents per 100 (to put it in property tax terms). You can see why it is essential to hold the line on cost. I have found that most other counties our size share the EMS responsibility with the cities. Cost wise, the county is taking the lion’s share of the cost. I will wrap up next week with my last column on EMS for a while.
Thanks for listening.
We want you to be proud of your County Government.
BOB HURLEY is the Atascosa County Judge. You may E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org