JUDGE: AMR agrees to improve ambulance service in county
On Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, a productive meeting was held to discuss improving the ambulance service in Milam County.
As a result of our letter of Aug. 20, 2021, to AMR demanding better service, a meeting was held between the Milam County Coalition members consisting of Mayor King, Mayor Harris, your County Judge and American Medical Response (AMR) employees Heath Wright, Byron Sedlacek and Heather Schmidt. The thrust of the meeting was immediate, better service by AMR.
AMR typically has nine paramedics and nine EMTs to man the three ambulances in the county, however, it currently has six paramedics to man the ambulances. Some paramedic schools closed during the pandemic, creating a shortage. However, at our insistence, AMR will now pay more overtime to its current paramedics and offer a hiring bonus to fully staff the ambulances.
Another shortage issue was caused by sending Milam County ambulances to Falls County to cover shortages there.
At our insistence, AMR agreed to stop sending or “staging” Milam County ambulances to cover a Falls County shortage. This will help as well.
Most importantly AMR wants to provide good, reliable service to the citizens of Milam County. AMR does not want to leave the county or walk away from the contract.
AMR has agreed to review other possible options to provide better service, such as using telehealth to avoid dispatching an ambulance where there is really no emergency. AMR has agreed to consider providing a “roving” paramedic that would not be tied to a specific ambulance providing better usage of the position.
AMR has agreed to consider better utilization of our free air ambulance service to supplement ground transportation. The parties have agreed to meet again within the next 30 days to further discuss these issues in the hope that we can find long term, sustainable solutions.
Like many issues, the ambulance problem is one of money. The service is truly not a profitable endeavor, for if it were, it would be easy to find a provider.
We have a 16-year history of service with AMR and it is the largest ambulance provider in the State. We have a great agreement with our air ambulance service that provides free air transport. Combining these two entities with new technology, gives us a real opportunity to resolve this matter by providing a sustainable solution. We are now making progress and I am convinced we will find a long-term solution.