ROCKWALL – Rockwall County EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is offering Rockwall County a new contract proposal to start a year early which they say will save the County and local cities hundreds of thousands of dollars, immediately reduce ambulance response times in rural areas by 30 percent and enable EMS to open a second and third location in Heath and Fate, which would both serve McClendon-Chisholm.
The decision whether or not to recommend the new contract offer or put the contract out to bid will likely be made tonight at the County Emergency Services Corporation board (ESC) meeting, according to an EMS news release. If the contract is allowed to go to a Request for Proposal, these benefits would not be implemented for more than a year, likely at a higher cost.
According to EMS, the service is currently subsidized at an annual rate of $398,575.00 (FY 2017). The County pays 50 percent and each participating city pays the remainder based on population. The City of Rockwall could save $112,617.80 with a new contract, EMS Chief Ownby explained in a news release.
“The City of Rockwall has recently heard the concerns of citizens as to the need for more fire department personnel,” he said. “The Rockwall Fire Department is currently seeking to add three much needed firemen in order to staff a fire station which currently only houses one fireman. The $112,617.80 savings would cover almost 40 percent of that cost. These savings would be year after year as Rockwall County EMS is seeking to provide EMS coverage at zero subsidy.”
“Should Rockwall County EMS lose the contract altogether, the county would be hard pressed to find a service that will equal Rockwall County EMS’s clinical excellence. Rockwall County EMS has exceeded national standards for twenty years. An early contract renewal with Rockwall County EMS would mean that the citizens of Rockwall County would benefit from faster response times, more ambulances and subsidy savings as soon as it is signed.”
Former Baylor LPMC emergency physician and Regional Medical Director Larry Dencklau MD says Rockwall County EMS is one of the best in the area.
“In my time as an emergency physician with Baylor LPMC, I was able to work closely with the paramedics and management of Rockwall County EMS, said Dr. Dencklau. “They have proven to provide excellence in pre-hospital care. Frankly, they are one of the best in the area. I have utmost confidence in their patient care and professionalism of all of their staff.”
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall Emergency Department Medical Director Chris Pierotti MD offered similar comments.
“As a practicing emergency medicine physician in the county, I have personally witnessed the excellent care provided by Rockwall County EMS,” said Dr. Pierotti. “On either occasion where the Rockwall County EMS crew is transporting a patient to the hospital for emergency evaluation or transferring a patient to another hospital for higher level of care, I have the utmost confidence in their services and capabilities.”
The current EMS contract has two response time requirements. The Urban Response Time is 7 minutes, 59 seconds and the Rural Response Time is 11 minutes, 59 seconds. The proposed new contract would make countywide response times 7 minutes, 59 seconds; adding ambulances to the system, strategically moving the current stations and adding an additional station to achieve the faster response times.
Rockwall County EMS has a new station location in Heath which is currently on hold pending a new contract agreement. This station can be fully operational in roughly 60 days from contract signing, according to EMS. The new station location would primarily serve southern Rockwall, Heath, McLendon-Chisholm and the southwest portions of the county. Additionally, property has been secured along the southern border of Fate for a fourth EMS station. This new location would primarily serve Fate, southern Royse City, eastern McLendon-Chisholm and the southeast portions of the county. A new contract would put these locations into motion immediately.
Rockwall County EMS is one of very few comparable EMS services that only employs paramedics to work on the ambulances. A paramedic is the highest level of certification in Texas. An EMT has a total school time of approximately 200 hours whereas a paramedic will have approximately 2,000 hours of EMS education.
Having two paramedics on every ambulance is not an industry standard, said Ownby.
“It is just one of the many ways in which Rockwall County EMS strives to exceed national benchmarks.”
In addition to being paramedic only, Rockwall County EMS also has a high ratio of paramedics further certified by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as critical care paramedics (CCEMTP).
“We believe no other company in Texas can match our ratio,” added Ownby.
Nationwide, only two percent of paramedics are certified CCEMTP, while over 50 percent of the Rockwall County EMS staff holds that certification.
Ownby explained that Rockwall County EMS is currently seeking to become the first EMS company in the country where each of the system’s ambulances are prepared with the knowledge, equipment and medications to both recognize and treat Long QT Syndrome. This syndrome has been recently recognized to cause sudden cardiac arrest in our younger population.
Royce City resident Sharon Stephens said she supports the contract renewal.
“Almost five years ago, my son was involved in a very serious auto accident,” she said. “Rockwall County EMS was there in record time. The quality of care and knowledgeable assessment of my son were crucial in his time of need and in his recovery. The paramedic was so very kind and compassionate. Our residents need the quality of care that only Rockwall County EMS can provide.”