Attorneys for Hidalgo County EMS and the city of Pharr told a judge Friday they had agreed on a transition plan for ambulance service in Pharr, western Hidalgo County and the Delta.
Pharr EMS will start responding to ambulance calls within Pharr city limits at 6 a.m. Saturday. Hidalgo County EMS will maintain ambulance service in western Hidalgo County and the Delta until 6 a.m. on May 29.
“The company transition to the city of Pharr is proceeding in an orderly manner,” said attorney Nathaniel Peter Holzer, who represents Hidalgo County EMS. “And it looks like we’ve got things pretty well smoothed out.”
Holzer briefed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David R. Jones on the transition plan during a status conference Friday morning.
Hidalgo County EMS — a privately owned ambulance company — filed for bankruptcy in October 2019.
The company responded to 911 calls in Pharr, Edinburg, Peñitas, Sullivan City, rural parts of Hidalgo County, the city of Taft, Jim Hogg County, Jim Wells County and Kleberg County. Some cities, including Edinburg, switched ambulance providers amid the bankruptcy proceedings.
Pharr agreed to buy the assets of Hidalgo County EMS, including ambulances and equipment, during a bankruptcy sale.
After they reached an agreement in principle, Hidalgo County EMS transferred eight ambulances to Pharr, which created a city-owned emergency medical services provider called Pharr EMS.
The $1 million transaction is scheduled to close on Monday.
“The city will take over its own services effective tomorrow morning, Saturday, at 6 a.m.,” Holzer said.
When that happens, Hidalgo County EMS will cease operations within city limits, Holzer said, and transfer another six ambulances to Pharr.
“We will also be reducing our footprint down to about 36 employees doing 911 services,” Holzer said. “That’s three stations operating 24-7.”
Hidalgo County EMS will maintain ambulance service in Hidalgo County Precinct 3, which covers the western part of the county, and Hidalgo County Emergency Services District #2, which covers the Delta.
They’ll be served by seven Hidalgo County EMS ambulances and a couple of supervisors.
“And the workaround for how we’re going to do that with vehicles owned by the city of Pharr is: We’re going to lease them back for a very short period of time,” Holzer said.
The terms of the ambulance lease agreement remain under negotiation.
Areas served by Hidalgo County EMS must either approve inter-local agreements with Pharr or find another EMS provider by May 29.
Attorney Christopher Franz, who represents the city of Pharr, said he’s comfortable with the transition plan.
“The city’s also taking over the air ambulance contracts,” Franz said. “They’re going to continue the air service, which is the only service in the Valley, so we’re happy to be doing that as well.”