ROCKDALE, Texas — Less than one month since KRHD last reported on challenges faced by Rockdale first responders, local officials in Milam County have worked to provide at least temporary relief to the community.
Early Wednesday afternoon in the Milam County courthouse, Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department first responders, county commissioners, and AMR ambulance service met to discuss some solutions to the lack of medical response available in Rockdale.
Nearly two dozen people had assembled, posing question after question to a representative for Global Medical Response-AMR, the ambulance company contracted to respond to emergency medical calls in Rockdale.
“I need about 90 EMT basics in the region that I support in Texas," said AMR spokesperson Heath Wright.
“There are nearly 100 firefighter EMTs testing twice a year in Conroe," responded one uniformed audience member. "They’re around, but you’ve got to pay up, and you’ve got to want them.”
The Rockdale VFD has taken issue with the shoestring response capabilities available through just three ambulances serving the whole city.
“Here’s the hard thing," Wright explained. "There's not a community college here putting out EMT's and paramedics. So we’ve got to get them from somewhere else. Two years ago, colleges quit producing EMTs and paramedics in the same way.”
Milam County Judge Steve Young, who was in attendance on Wednesday, told KRHD that a temporary fix has provided the fire department some relief when responding to critical emergency calls in a timely manner.
"AMR quit sending ambulances to Falls County, to back that up," he stated. "And they have actually brought other people here to work. They’ve taken people off their other projects in Waco and Houston, is what I'm told, and brought them here to help get things under control. Of course, those are short-term fixes.”
Young noted that a longer-term solution is still to be determined, and could potentially require more county funding through a tax increase. At present, the county hopes to hire at least one roving paramedic who can access a fourth emergency vehicle, in addition to AMR's three ambulances.
“We’re also talking about using telehealth, telemedicine to eliminate some of these calls," commented Young.