The regular meeting of the Blanco County Emergency Services District #2 (South) was held Tuesday, August 20.
EMS Director Mike West reported 77 total calls for the month. “It’s not any one specific [type of call]. Last month, if we were to pick one out, it would have been traffic accidents.” said West. He added, “We only transported in 27 of those calls, again that’s what we’re paid on. You go and you spend a lot of resources… and we don’t transport them. That’s just the way it is.”
West also reported that he would be attending an Assistance to Firefighter grant workshop on September 4. The grant is available through FEMA. The purpose of the grant is to “ meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations.” (fema.gov) It can be used towards the purchase of protective gear, emergency vehicles, equipment and other resources used for fire fighting. West explained that when applying for the grant, they will ask if you did the online workshop or attended one in person. “It’s a good thing to go in person. They give you a lot of pointers, what to do, what to write [for a better chance of receiving the grant.]”
The budgets for the both the EMS and VFD will need to be approved in September. Mike West is anticipating a higher number in patient revenue for the next year as calls and transports have been steadily increasing. They have not requested an increase in funding from the ESD for the next fiscal year.
Lynn Hick reported that the VFD responded to 22 calls, a large increase from last month’s 4 calls. The calls included 1 structure fire, 1 vehicle fire, 2 wildland fires, and 12 car accidents.
The new budget was explained by VFD board member Brian Reid. Several amounts were increased from last year including vehicle maintenance, gear, fuel, insurance, and computer programs for billing and E-dispatch. Brian Reid went into detail on some of the items, “Bunker gear has a shelf life of ten years, this year we’re going to have to replace ten sets. Fuel prices are anticipated to go up in the expectation of the VFD becoming First Responders, therefore the VFD would be responding to more calls.” The VFD has increased their requested amount from the ESD for the next fiscal year.
In relation to the anticipation of becoming First Responders, discussion followed about the need for volunteers. Fire Chief Tommy Pinder talked about how to get more volunteers interested in the Fire Department. “We’re going to do a huge recruitment drive to get members.” he said. John Watson of the EMS countered that, “As much as volunteerism is supposed to be the wave, I just don’t see it happening. We’re going to have to have full-time staff.” Ann Hall replied with, “The problem with that, if you look at the budget. [Even] if we charge the citizens 10 cents [on 100 dollars], we don’t generate the money for a full-time paid Fire and EMS. If we spend [more] on personnel, you’re going to have some real old trucks.” Brian Reid commented that “Seventy percent of the Fire Fighters in the U.S. are volunteers. It won’t be easy, but they’re out there.” Several ideas were floated around about getting our community youth involved and recruiting newly certified EMTs and Firefighters to come volunteer in Blanco to earn the experience needed to land a paid job.
There was no update on land acquisition for a southern substation, other than the few plots that had been looked into are not as far south as the board would like.
A lengthy discussion about how the ESD works, how the money is distributed and the exact ownership of that money followed. All parties were not clear on how Texas Health and Safety Code, section #775 verbiage is applied. It was agreed to bring in the ESD board attorney in order to better explain to all parties the details of the statute.