One EMS call under investigation

Members of the Medina County Emergency Management District No. 4 huddled together to review prospective designs for a new shoulder badge. (Photo by Anton Riecher)

By Anton Riecher
What was initially suspected to be a heat-related mass casualty incident in Medina County involving undocumented immigrants turned out to be relatively benign by comparison, Allegiance District Chief Patrick Bourcier reported to the Emergency Service District No. 4 board.

The closed truck stopped by the Department of Public Safety contained 22 undocumented immigrants, Bourcier told the board August 1.
“DPS called and asked us to come check them out,” Bourcier said. “Once they got the truck pulled over it turned out to be an air conditioned truck. Everyone was fine and the response was cancelled.”
Otherwise, the run report for June 16 through July 15 totaled only 182 calls for the district, down from 212 the previous reporting period. The overall average response time is calculated as 7.8 minutes with 36 percent of runs arriving in five minutes or less.
Forty-one percent of response calls arrived with six to nine minutes. Thirty-three percent took 10 minutes or longer.
On response run made June 28 that took 26 minutes to reach its destination remains under investigation, Bourcier said.
“The unit went to County Road 5714 in Pearson,” he said. “A one-digit error sent them to the wrong county road.”
It has not been determined if the mistake was a dispatching error or some other problem, Bourcier said. Fortunately, the ambulance run did not involve a dire emergency.
“Eighty percent of our calls are priority three, which means not serious, not life threatening,” he said.
The Devine transport area accounted for 65 of the 182 response runs with an average arrival time of 4.5 minutes. Ninety-eight percent of all Devine area runs took nine minutes or less. The number of calls for the MCESD No. 4 transport area outside Devine totaled 117 with an average response time matching the overall average.
Total calls made to Natalia totaled 12 with an average response time of 6.2 minutes. Outside the county two mutual aid calls were requested, one for Atascosa County and one for Frio County. Both were provided.
Under the heading of maintenance, Bourcier said the major issue during the current heat wave is keeping the ambulances cool. EMS No. 4 had to operate using a loaner ambulance for some 15 hours while one of the vehicles was being serviced for air conditioning problems.
In other business, ESD No. 4 Coordinator Christy Merendon issued the August treasurers report. With a deposit of $8,066 from the Medina County Appraisal District, ESD No. 4 showed a closing balance of $719,425 including savings, money market and certificates of deposit.
Accounts payable for monthly operations totaled $20,598, of which $17,666 was paid to Allegiance.
A special budget meeting of the ESD No. 4 board is scheduled for Aug. 8.
Much of the board meeting Aug. 1 involved discussion of the design of an EMS shoulder patch similar to those issued by Medina County ESD No. 1 and No. 3 to their employees. Merendon presented the board with four suggested designs for the patch.
Action on the design was tabled until a new version based on the board’s suggestions combining portions of the four choices could be drafted.
Bourcier said he wanted to make sure the design chosen could not be confused with any other emergency responders such as the police.
“My only concern is I want whoever sees me to know its EMS,” he said.