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GPS system to help Milam County first responders dealing with ambulance shortage

Posted at 9:22 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 22:22:16-05

MILAM COUNTY, TX — First responders in Milam County hope to improve their emergency response operations by directly tracking the paths of ambulances.

Milam county leaders have been working for some time now to resolve the issue of an ambulance shortage in the area. One smaller solution they’ve come up with to provide some relief is the use of an ambulance tracking GPS system for police and firefighters.

Rockdale Volunteer Fire Chief Herbert Vaughn is feeling better about his team's current position than he was back in August when the fire department was publicly pleading for a solution to the ambulance issue. His colleagues struggled with the three-ambulance set up for the county through the company AMR.

"We have our three units here most of the time," said Vaughn. "Occasionally we have a staffing issue and there’s one man down.”

Since the summer, Milam County and its cities have been in meetings with AMR trying to come up with a solution as the local area has no regional hospitals for quick transport, and licensed paramedics are in short supply.

Rockdale mayor John King said that at the start of November, he and his peers in the county told AMR representatives that they needed some sort of options - immediately.

"The decision to use the [GPS] software came from AMR," said King. "But it also came from us telling them that we were going to have to have a solution, or we were going to have to look at whatever we can do.”

This week AMR introduced a new software system that will allow police and firefighters to directly track the arrival time and path of ambulances using GPS.

"That [system] shows in somewhat real-time ambulances' travel and where they’re at on a moving map," King explained. "That will give us a lot of information on how to dispatch our first responders.”

For Chief Vaughn who’s had to help transport patients to helicopter pads using the bed of a pickup truck, any kind of technology that will make his job more efficient is a blessing indeed.

“A couple of people can be working on the patient while the others can be on the app getting things ready for when the ambulance gets there - or if we have to start getting ourselves ready if we have to start transporting to a [helicopter] landing zone," Vaughn said.

King anticipates having this software up and running in just a few weeks.