The board for Medina County Emergency Services District #4 met on February 9 for their monthly meeting, opening with discussion of the district’s finances. Currently ESD #4 has around $415,000 in CD, money market and operating accounts. It was decided to split the operating account into two separate accounts at the same local bank where it is currently held, similar to how most people keep a larger savings account and a smaller checking account. Holding these large sums in reserve has allowed previous improvements to facilities such as the Devine EMS building to be paid for outright without the need for hefty loans.
Those funds are going to good use, with the board approving one-time equipment and supplies contributions to the Devine & Natalia fire departments. These include a modern cutter-spreader (similar to “jaws of life”) for Natalia and “jump bags” (sets of supplies that are ready to dispatch on trucks) for Devine. ESD #4 is buying the items directly rather than writing a check to the departments, and is getting bids currently, for an expected value of around $24,000 for the donations to both departments.
Also approved in the meeting was the purchase of Ring security cameras, window sensors, doorbell and professional monitoring for a maximum of $1500, which is far cheaper than hard-wiring a custom system would be. Being a government entity, the annual monitoring fee may be waived. The Devine EMS helipad was also discussed, with necessary repairs and possible upgrades being weighed. Feedback from medivac helicopter pilots will be considered in deciding how to proceed. The current pad needs lighting for the perimeter and wind sock and is closer to the EMS building than is ideal. Completing these upgrades would bring the helipad to a much higher standard; as board president Leonesio stated, “We don’t want to do something halfway”.
Allegiance (the provider of contracted EMS services for ESD #4) reported that ambulance crews on the second full-time ambulance for Devine-Natalia have enjoyed the facilities at the Devine EMS building (beds, showers, kitchen) on night shifts and that it has been an effective program to keep two units posted full-time. They also presented their response times, with an average of 6.26 minutes for the 128 calls in Devine and 8.15 minutes for the 74 calls in the ‘surrounding area,’ to include mutual aid calls to Lytle and others. 80% of Devine calls were less than 9 minutes and 62% of calls from the surrounding area were under 9 minutes. One call had a reported response time of 45 minutes, though it was noted that this was an error as the responders were busy upon reaching the scene and did not immediately tell dispatch they had arrived. It was noted that at least one call took an inordinate amount of time due to confusion of Hwy 173’s signs for 173 North vs South, where some addresses are listed as Hwy 173 South, but are actually North on 173 from the downtown 173 & 132 intersection. It was also noted that there is an increasing number of calls for “lift assists” where people (often older residents) have fallen and just need help getting up rather than medical treatment or transport.
By Kyle G. Saathoff