COLUMBUS – The county’s emergency medical services saw increased revenues in 2018 and experienced better operations thanks to four new full-time EMTs, Colorado County Commissioners were told Monday during their final February meeting.
Last year represented the “highest revenues for fees for service in our history,” Colorado County EMS Director Michael Furrh told commissioners.
Furrh also told Commissioners that the four full-time EMTs they approved for the EMS service budget last year helped end problems the service was having with staffing issues due to call-outs by part-time staff.
“Our scheduling conflicts have gone out the window,” he said. “It’s running really smooth,” he said.
The county spent roughly $39.86 per person in the county in tax revenue to operate the service during 2018, Furrh said. That amount is down from around $41 per person in previous years, Furrh said.
“A lot of people mention ambulance service districts, but I’m a firm believer that the way we are doing it is the best way,” Furrh said. Some rural counties create emergency service districts–which are separate government entities collecting ad valorem property taxes, while Colorado County runs its own service through the county.
Furrh told Commissioners that 2019 would be a year of many positive changes for the EMS service.
“We really are going to be doing some stuff no one around us is,” Furrh said.
The court also discussed patient transfers–when a patient in a hospital in the county is transported by EMS to a hospital outside the county.
Furrh told the commissioners that transfer requests to Austin and Round Rock are becoming less frequent, and that the service is working with physicians and nursing staffs to try and get patients to closer facilities in Houston unless there is a compelling reason to make the 115 mile-plus trek toward Austin. He said a transport to Austin or Round Rock takes an ambulance crew out of service for as lon as seven hours due to traffic, while the service can make runs toward Sugar Land, Houston, and Rosenberg multiple times a day.
He emphasized that medical facilities east of the county toward Houston are easier to access, and that is where they typically take patients in immediate need of access to a hospital with heart catheter operation facilities.
“We can get them from bedside to operating room in 45 minutes,” Furrh said.
Commissioners had strong words of praise for the EMS service and Furrh’s leadership.
“Service has drastically improved over the last couple of years,” said County Commissioner Doug Wessels.
“Thank you for being a good leader; none of this would happen without your leadership,” Prause said.