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County commissioners: There is ambulance service in La Vernia

 

In case of an emergency, there is ambulance coverage in La Vernia.

That’s the message from Wilson County and city of La Vernia officials, after emergency medical services by the La Vernia Volunteer Ambulance Service, known as the La Vernia EMS, were suspended last week.

Currently, two ambulances provided by the state of Texas are operating in the La Vernia EMS coverage area, according to La Vernia Mayor Robert Gregory.

Service by the La Vernia EMS ceased Nov. 16, following an emergency meeting of the Wilson County Commissioners Court. The commissioners did not renew the county’s contract with the La Vernia EMS.

The La Vernia-based organization has been un-der a two-year probated suspension by the Texas Department of State Health Services since February.

Wilson County Attorney Tom Caldwell said he has received complaints about the EMS provider over a period of time, adding, “They haven’t complied with certain terms of our contract.”

The two state-provided ambulances -- housed by District 1 Fire/Rescue -- will provide coverage until a longer-term solution is developed, Gregory said. He added that there is no cost to the community for the state coverage through the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council; various agencies are providing service through Nov. 28.

Wilson County Emergency Services District Nos. 2 and 3 -- through District 2 Emergency Services and District 3 EMS, serving the Eagle Creek and Stockdale areas, respectively -- also are providing support.

District 2 President Larry Phillips advised the two organizations have met with county commissioners regarding a longer-term solution. His district administrator is currently in talks with Stockdale’s Emergency Services District No. 3 about how to divide the coverage area.

“There are still some details that need to be worked out,” he said.

“I think that just the work I’ve seen your board do tonight is good for the community and it’s good for all associates,” Gregory told members of the District 3 board Nov. 20, during an emergency meeting to coordinate coverage. “It shows that everybody in the county works together -- that’s the ultimate focus that we are looking at, and that’s public safety.”

District 3 EMS Director David Rice outlined agreements between Wilson County, District 3, and Wilson County ESD No. 1, operating as District 1 Fire/Rescue.

District 1 fire Chief Chris Thompson also attended. His district and District 3 approved a first responder organization agreement Nov. 2, paving the way for District 1 personnel to provide on-scene patient care to injured persons; District 3 will transport patients.

For now, Wilson County’s annual funding for the La Vernia EMS -- approximately $26,500 -- and funds from the city of La Vernia for the same will provide “seed money” for District 3 to pay for a paramedic to serve the La Vernia area.

District 3 also approved a measure Nov. 20 to allow its personnel to provide coverage in the La Vernia area, which is outside District’s 3 boundaries. This measure was necessary, as District 3 levies ad valorem -- property -- taxes to support its services. La Vernia EMS, a volunteer organization, is not a taxing entity.

District 3 will provide personnel to cover the La Vernia area, effective Nov. 28 at 7 a.m.

The arrangements with Districts 2 and 3 will continue for approximately six months, while a more permanent solution is sought.

Gregory said he also has met with Texas Rep. John Kuempel regarding EMS solutions for the La Vernia area.

Talk to commissioners

The decision by Wilson County commissioners Nov. 16 regarding the La Vernia EMS has nothing to do with Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, nor the countywide EMS the hospital board hoped to fund with a tax increase, quashed by voters last spring.

Hospital district board member Tom Miller responded on social media regarding rumors of the hospital’s involvement.

“The CMMC board received and understood the message sent by voters in the rollback election and have no intention of having anything to do with running any EMS service,” Miller said. He suggested area residents with questions about the matter should approach the Wilson County Commissioners Court.

The commissioners are scheduled to discuss this further during a Nov. 27 meeting in Floresville.

 
 
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