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Fort Bend EMS adds ambulance to Cinco Ranch area

December 30, 2018

Basing a Fort Bend County EMS ambulance in Station 3 of the Willowfork Fire Department this month will improve response times to calls in north Fort Bend County.

“As the county continues to grow, it has been our plan for the past three years to make improvements,” said Graig Temple, chief of EMS, Fort Bend County EMS. “In 2015 we started with the master plan to add additional mobile intensive care units.”

“Medic 15 will give us a third mobile intensive care unit in northern Fort Bend County,” said Temple. “It will be a huge improvement with response time as well as added resources.”

Temple said Medic 15 will help to keep the response time to under 10 minutes or less for 90 percent of the calls. Medic 15 joins the county’s medic 9 which is based off at the Willowfork Fire Department off Westheimer Parkway and Medic 11 which is based at the Fulshear Fire Department off FM 723.

Local fire departments provide space for Fort Bend County EMS units because the agencies work so closely together on calls, explained Temple. “It keeps overhead low. We do not have to build a county facility just for an ambulance.”

“Station 3 was built in response to the rapidly growing area of Cinco Ranch and surrounding areas,” said Billy Wilson, chief of the Willowfork Fire Department.

In 2017, the department had 2,352 calls, said Wilson. That compares with 1,778 calls five years earlier.

“Its need was identified by tracking call volume, as well as response times in relation to other areas served by the department,” said Wilson. “The addition of the Medic unit will both increase the number of units serving this area of Fort Bend County and aid in reducing response time to calls for assistance in that rapidly growing area.”

Willowfork Fire Department celebrated the grand opening of Station 3 last June. The station is home to Engine 83, a 1,500 gallon-per-minute Pierce pumper equipped with tools and equipment for rescue, including vehicle extrication and various other fire ground duties to facilitate ventilation and forcible entry, said Wilson.

“The truck carries specialized equipment, such as a thermal imaging camera and gas detection equipment, as well as basic medical equipment,” he added. “The station is also home to the department’s two rescue boats.”

It also will now be home to a county ambulance outfitted with all the necessary equipment at a cost of $215,000 which is funded through the general fund of Fort Bend County, Temple said.

Fort Bend County EMS hired seven additional paramedics to go through training academy to help staff the Medic 15 unit starting in mid-January.

Medic 15 will always be staffed by two paramedics, Temple said. Paramedics are trained to provide advanced life support.

Wilson said that Engine 83 is staffed with three Willowfork fire personnel who are cross trained in fire and EMS response.

Temple said the county is pleased to partner with Willowfork Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services District No. 2. “They’ve given us space in a new fire station for Medic 15. Medic 15 has been in our strategic plan for three years as we have been improving response and reducing response times.

“It’s a great opportunity to expand our service and provide excellent EMS services for residents of northern Fort Bend County,” said Temple.

It’s not a new arrangement, according to Wilson. Since 2003, Fort Bend EMS has been operating from the department’s stations. Medic 9 is based at Station 1, 24655 Westheimer Parkway; while Battalion 3, an EMS supervisor unit, is based at Station 2, 26950 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

“There is a good relationship between the two entities, and they share living quarters as if they were all from the same department,” said Wilson. “While we assist them with EMS calls, their crews assist us with any major calls we make by sending a medic unit, as well as a Battalion Chief, as a support both to assist us as well as handle any injury or medical issue that may arise in the course of our operation. They also are responsible for any patient transportation to a medical facility.”

Both Temple and Wilson credited the advance to the support of Emergency Services District No. 2 and Fort Bend County officials, including Precinct 3 County Commissioner Andy Meyers.

Wilson said the foresight of ESD No. 2, along with assistance from Meyers and Fort Bend County EMS, “has greatly enhanced the response capabilities of both fire and EMS in the area served by the Willowfork Fire Department.”

karen.zurawski@chron.com

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