Georgetown considers running own ambulance service

GEORGETOWN (KXAN) – More ambulances will decrease response times in Georgetown under a new plan being considered by the Central Texas community.

You never know when you may have a medical emergency and need first responders to come to your aid. In any case, the faster the response, the better. In the city of Georgetown, one plan could improve speed by having firefighters give medical care too.

Nan Massey and her husband have lived in Sun City, a community in Georgetown for 8 years.They haven’t had a medical emergency yet but know it’s always a possibility.

“We fortunately live close to the firehouse, very close…but that’s not true for everyone in Georgetown,” Massey says.

KXAN has learned Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan is asking for his own ambulances and says they are looking to hire 13 to 14 additional firefighters. Nine of them specifically trained for both fire and medical emergencies. Right now the firefighters and paramedics use Williamson County’s. Not only that, the chief wants additional firefighters who will also be trained as paramedics.

“We just want to raise that bar. Seventy percent of what we do is medical and we want to treat it like a rolling ER,” Sullivan says.

Sullivan adds it would cost the department $600,000 for the two ambulance like vehicles and they would have enough space inside to also hold fire equipment.

“If we’re taking that call first and we’re getting there we’re getting their first we’re in a position to do treatment and transport,” he explained.

The extra ambulances would bring the total up to six for that area of Williamson County with Williamson County EMS still providing services for Georgetown.

City council will have a public hearing on the matter to discuss it on Aug. 26.

IN-DEPTH:

One medical challenge in Georgetown is its aging population. A little more than one in four people living in Georgetown are 65 years or older. Across Texas, only 11 percent of people are 65 and over.

Something you may not have realized is that several other cities are already using cross-trained firefighters. The Georgetown fire chief tells us he looked at these cities as a model for what he’s now proposing. Dallas, San Antonio, Buda, New Braunfels, Marble Falls and several other cities have already started hiring people for these positions. The cross training benefits the firefighters too. Officials with the Georgetown Fire Department say they could earn $3,000 to $5,000 more per year. Chicago firefighters earn about 7 percent more per year.

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