JUDGE: Volunteers are needed for emergency team
Since we lost the hospitals in December 2018 your county government has worked hard to improve our medical care in the county.
Several good things have happened. We now have clinics in Thorndale, Rockdale and Cameron. We have a first of its kind telehealth station in Cameron and we will soon have an urgent care facility in Cameron as well.
We are paying for emergency helicopter transport service, which is free for any Milam County resident. In addition, we are working on a community volunteer program to assist during emergencies and to assist first responders in the county.
We currently have three ambulances in the county that are operated by AMR. An ambulance is stationed in Cameron, Rockdale and Milano.
The service is subsidized by the county, the City of Cameron and the City of Rockdale. Each entity pays an annual subsidy of $100,000 for a total annual subsidy of $300,000. Obviously, the service is typically not profitable for AMR as only about 35 percent of its runs are paid. Often, the person that is transported has no insurance coverage, nor any money and AMR is not paid.
The service works well until all three ambulances are out on calls at the same time and a fourth call is received. When that happens and there is another call for an ambulance, there can be a long wait. We could pay for a fourth ambulance, but at this point the cost would be a subsidy of several hundred thousand dollars. One solution we are working on through a partnership with the Texas A&M Health Science Center is a citizen emergency response team (CERT).
The concept is to have citizen volunteers provide assistance on those occasions when help may be not immediately available. The citizen volunteers will function as “the help until help arrives.” The citizen volunteer will be provided with basic life-saving training and necessary basic equipment.
Texas A&M has developed a toolset to support the citizen volunteers and organize the response. Notification to volunteers will occur via a mobile phone app, which is initiated by emergency dispatch in the county.
Volunteers closest to the need would be notified first, and if the volunteer is available and accepts the call, he/she would go to the person in need and provide help until help arrives. Similar community response programs in other rural areas of the country have demonstrated improvement of survivability and medical outcomes of emergencies.
We need volunteers for the program. Volunteers can come from any walk of life or profession, all that is required is a desire to help your neighbors during an emergency. With the assistance of Texas A&M, we are providing classes to explain how the program works and what is needed from the volunteers.
In order for the program to be successful, we have to have an adequate supply of volunteers. We would love for you to attend one of our short workshops to learn more about the program.
If you are interested, simply let me know by phone or email (254) 697-7000 email@example.com) and we will make arrangements for you to attend. Until the time comes when we get another ambulance, this is a great solution! You can be the help, until help arrives.