Change to ETMC ambulance coverage sparks Red Springs firefighter debate

EAST TEXAS (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - The recent decision by East Texas Medical Center to make changes in its ambulance coverage has firefighters in one community pleading to keep the old plan.
However, EMS officials say the changes will help serve Smith County in a more efficient manner.

Red Springs Fire Chief Tim Thompson and Capt. Charles Wilson said Thursday it was important to keep a 24-hour ambulance at the fire station on Farm-to-Market Road 14 where it has been housed for the past two years.

Thompson and Wilson propose the ETMC Emergency Medical Services continue with the static service they have been under for the past several years.

"EMS signed a lease with us, and their guys have been able to sleep and eat here and keep a 24-hour crew on instead of a 12-hour truck that will post in the area and then be sent somewhere else leaving this area uncovered," Wilson said.

Wilson said since the EMS crew has been housed at the Red Springs fire station, they have undoubtedly saved numerous lives.

"If a truck gets pulled and sent somewhere else, then we are not going to have that coverage. In situations where life-saving medications being administered quickly are key to saving a life, we need that coverage," he said.

Neal Franklin, EMS general manager, said his agency is implementing the System Status Management, which requires constant real-time adjustment to deployment and staffing patterns in order to meet the needs of the community.

Franklin said by using trending patterns, the personnel could be used in a better manner.

"We just feel that we can do this more efficiently and at the same time provide the same amount of coverage," he said. "We have considered making this change for several years, so instead of having 24-hour static trucks and crews, we will utilize 12-hour trucks that can be shifted where they are needed.

EMS personnel said there are 18 ambulances on duty in Smith County during the peak hours around noon. During the night, that number falls to 11 ambulances covering the county.

Wilson said a public meeting would be held at the Red Springs fire station today at 7 p.m. to address any questions the public may have in the matter.

"We would and the public would like see that 24-hour truck up here. You have a heavily populated interstate corridor and we are asking them to please stay," he said. "We are talking about life and death."

Franklin said EMS officials would be at the meeting so they could answer any questions.

"We are still covering the area, it's just a different way to provide the same coverage," he said.


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