College Station enhances EMS services, boosting efficiency and response times
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The City of College Station has made significant efforts to enhance its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) over the past couple of years, resulting in what they say are notable improvements in response times and overall patient care. The city says these initiatives demonstrate its commitment to maximizing efficiency and ensuring the well-being of its residents.
These changes come as EMS providers across the country are grappling with shortages of equipment and personnel after the pandemic led to supply chain issues and job losses across the healthcare industry.
One of the city’s key initiatives implemented during 2021-2022 was the strategic streamlining of dispatch policies and processes. They say this optimization aimed to maximize the efficiency of existing resources, ensuring that the EMS department is well-equipped to handle emergencies, particularly during high-demand periods such as football weekends, graduations, and other community events.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve made a real investment in trying to supplement our EMS resources to make sure that we can meet the needs of this community as it continues to grow,” said College Station Fire Chief Richard Mann.
Building on this momentum, last year, a peak-time ambulance was introduced at Fire Station No. 1 on Holleman Drive. This addition, operational between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., addresses the surge in emergency calls, primarily catering to the area from University Drive to Rock Prairie Road. Chief Mann says these areas experience a substantial population increase during business and school hours.
“What that does is based on analytical analysis, we were able to determine the busiest times of the day for our EMS service. And so we added an ambulance during those peak times. Not full-time, but just to meet that peak demand,” Mann said. “So what we determined is that the peak time of the day for us is between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM and Tuesday through Saturday, those are our busiest times.”
Further reinforcing its commitment to quick emergency response, the city council greenlit the deployment of a fifth full-time ambulance in October 2022. Stationed at Fire Station No. 5 on William D. Fitch Parkway, this ambulance significantly reduces response times for residents, businesses, and schools in south College Station.
“We saw a tremendous decrease in October when we added the fifth full-time ambulance in addition to that peak ambulance. So we are really in a good position right now to make sure that we always have EMS service available to the community.”
Acknowledging the critical role of skilled personnel, the city has also expanded its pool of paramedic-trained individuals. Chief Mann says thanks to federal funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and the Texas EMS Recruiting and Retention Funding Program, additional paramedics have been recruited. He says the city’s fiscal year 2024 budget reflects continued local funding support for ongoing paramedic training, something he says will be crucial as the city prepares to open its newest fire station hopefully in 2026.
The city of College Station also purchased four new ambulances which are on backorder because of supply chain issues, something Mann says was also a benefit of local and federal funding.
“It’s a $450,000 investment for the ambulance and the equipment, which was purchased with local funding, but the staffing is the biggest portion of it and we were able to get a federal grant, and that will pay for seven personnel to staff that ambulance full-time for the first three years that it will be in service,” Mann added.
College Station Mayor John Nichols says the city is also looking toward future staffing as they prepare to add a new fire station that was approved during a 2022 bond election. Station No. 7 will be located on Greens Prairie Road, across the street from the Dalton Drive entrance to the Castlegate II subdivision. City Council approved the purchase of the land back in August but no timeline has been set for when we can see construction begin.
“Our staffing is doing really, really well. Clearly, when we build Fire Station No. 7 we’re going to have to make a big initial push to up and increase the staff for that,” said Mayor Nichols. “We’ll have to be looking at strategies to do that’s part of what they’re doing right now with building the manpower so that we can absorb the 24 new positions that will be required to fully staff that new fire station in a couple of years.”
Mann says to aid in recruiting they’ve changed their approach.
“One of our new initiatives when we hire, it’s kind of a change in our organizational philosophy. We call it our Hire a Local and Invest Local Initiative. Previously we have always hired people who were pre-certified as firefighters and EMTs. But what we recognized is we have a really tremendous community here with tremendous people. And a lot of those people have a heart for public service,” said Mann. “And so we decided we were gonna hire those folks. We were gonna invest in them and invest in their professional development by training and certification and fire and EMT training.’
“By doing that we provided them a professional path to be able to serve right here in our community and right here in our department,” Mann added.
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