MILAM COUNTY, Texas — This Saturday, residents in Milam County will get to vote on whether or not to create the county's first emergency response district, or ESD.
Kain Dodd, who serves on the Milam County Emergency Service District Advisory Committee, says it's an effort that's been in the works for three years.
“In 2020, we kind of got overrun in the county and our ambulances weren't available,” Dodd said.
He's watched over the years as resources have been stretched thin.
“We have three ambulances here in the county,” Dodd said.
"They were just back to back. There weren't enough ambulances to cover the amount of calls we were getting.”
Since 2020, the amount of service call has plateaued, but Dodd says this is exactly the time to address the problem.
“The system itself doesn't have any improvements to it, so as soon as another something comes along, it's going to increase our call volume, we're going to be in the same boat.”
The three ambulances currently cover just over 1,000 square miles and about 25,000 people in Milam County.
Dodd says by adding a fourth ambulance, they hope to cut down the response time.
“We don't want to scare citizens and say, 'Look, you're not going to get an ambulance when you call 911'. That's not the case. It might be that it may be an hour out, so what we're trying to do is to get it down to about 20 minutes, response time or less,” Dodd said.
The impending decision is sparking heated discussion in the community. One resident took to social media to say he'll be voting "Yes," because of an incident where someone crashed through his house, and he waited over an hour for an ambulance.
Other residents, are concerned about the cost. One saying on social media simply "I cannot support another added tax."
If voters pass the bond this Saturday, they'll pay for it through property taxes.
“Our goal right now is five cents per $100," Dodd said.
"If your house is $350,000, it's $175 a year, or $14 and some change a month.”
The extra $15 a month would pay for a fourth ambulance, rebuilding and remodeling three ambulance housing stations, and getting new lifesaving equipment like CPR devices.
Dodd says they've been trying to get some of those devices for years.
“They used to be about $20,000 a piece, and the reason that we never got them was just because of cost itself," Dodd said.
"The funds just weren't there.”
Now, after years of organizing and petitioning county leaders and residents, it's up to the voters to make the final decision.
Saturday, May 6 is election day, and voters can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Milam County polling locations.