The Mission Fire Department added more resources to its emergency medical services arsenal, helping ensure rapid response times in case of a large-scale event.
At the Aug. 28 Mission City Council meeting, the city leaders approved mutual aid agreements with Trans-Starr EMS L.L.C and Skyline EMS Inc. for ambulance provider services. The two companies are Rio Grande City and Mission-based, respectively. Additionally, Mission already had a mutual aid agreement with Palmview Fire Department and EMS.
Even though the city has these partnerships with the three entities, Med-Care is still Mission’s primary and only contracted ambulance provider. Med-Care is first on the list to respond to calls that come through Mission’s line. But when the private company does not have available units, Mission EMS responds to calls. However, the mutual aid agreements with Trans-Star, Skyline and Palmview are in case of a large-scale emergency where the city needs to deploy multiple units to one site. Their ambulances are not part of the regular rotation of EMS units that respond to calls.
“It’s more on the emergency management side,” Fire Chief Adrian Garcia said. “It’s making sure we have enough resources if we have a bus accident, per se. And if we have 25-30 victims, we already have agreements in place so we can reach out to them and call someone quickly and say, ‘Hey, we need your help.’”
Garcia said the city previously had informal agreements with the ambulance providers before he came into the role in March. But he wanted something more concrete, something in writing. However, the city’s partnership with the three entities is not the same as its contract with Med-Care.
“A mutual aid agreement is not a contract. That’s just a formal agreement saying, ‘Hey, if we need your help, we’re going to call you and if you have an available ambulance, you’ll send [it to] us.’ It’s more preparation for a mass casualty incident,” Garcia said. “So it’s not like a contract where they’re going to be supplying ambulances to the city for a certain period of time or anything like that; that’s Med-Care.”
Substation 6 is still in the works, but move-in day looms closer. The chief said the new station along Military and Schuerbach needs furniture, which will not come in until late October. After, it needs to undergo inspection before the department can get it up and running. Garcia said his gut tells him the station will be in service in late November or early December. However, it’s a moving target as things get finalized.
But as the new station opens, others will undergo some changes.
The chief said the fire truck at Station 2 will move to Central Station, and Station 2 will convert to a full EMS location with an ambulance and a chase vehicle. Central Station and Station 3 will also get a medic unit each.
Mission has three ambulance units — two are already in service, and the third should be available late to mid-October, Garcia said. But all will be located on the north side of town.
“The reason we’re doing that is we’re kind of trying to strategically place them within our response areas where we have most of the EMS calls,” the fire chief said. “So that way, hopefully, they’ll get a little closer, help reduce response times and get care to any of our patients a lot quicker.”
During a city council workshop earlier in the year, Garcia presented a data map that showed about 95% of emergency calls come north of Expressway 83. And because the majority of the calls come from the north, the Mission chief said he opted for three ambulances to the north, which he will spread out east to west at the different stations.
“Keep in mind, we’re going to continue to monitor and evaluate and see if additional ambulances are going to be required,” he explained. “We have some responses south of the highway but not as much as we have north of the expressway. So over time, eventually, we’ll end up having to move an ambulance south of the expressway to help cover that call volume.”