Mineral Wells Area News

County Plans To Almost Triple Funds to MW Fire & EMS Next Year to Avoid Crisis as City Seeks Solution for Ambulance Services

County Plans To Almost Triple Funds to MW Fire & EMS Next Year to Avoid Crisis as City Seeks Solution for Ambulance Services
July 11
16:05 2023

It’s been no secret that the Mineral Wells Fire and EMS Department has struggled to keep all the doors open lately as they’ve been operating with staffing shortages as well as being inundated with more calls than ever. Fortunately for citizens living on the outskirts of town who rely on them for ambulatory services from the City, County Judge Shane Long has placed $144,000 in next year’s budget to help keep the service up and running for the next year.

At a recent budget session of the Palo Pinto County Commissioner’s Court, Long revealed a plan in the next budget to increase the County’s contribution to the City for emergency services from $54,000 paid by ESD1 to $144,000, directly from the County, for the 2023-2024 fiscal year as the city looks for a permanent solution to provide ambulance service to the community.

According to Long, the County has funded Emergency Service District #1 (ESD1) $175,000 the past 6 years from funds raised from property taxes. ESD1 then paid the City of Mineral Wells $54,000 for taking emergency calls in the extended service area outside of the city limits. Considering the City is servicing 22,000 of the 30,000 people in Palo Pinto County, Judge Long felt it was a fair request he had received in a meeting with Mineral Wells Mayor Regan Wallace and City Manager Dean Sullivan.

Long explained to the Court that it was no surprise to ESD1 that the funds would be paid to the City of Mineral Wells the next fiscal year instead to them. He also said that since ESD1 had passed a sales tax to raise revenue, the funds were no longer necessary since they had become self funded.

“I don’t have a problem helping out the department’s that are in need at the moment, then we have an obligation to do that for the citizens of Palo Pinto County whether they are in a municipality or outside a municipality,” Long said.

Long touted the service the City provided many years back when the County got into a jam with volunteer ambulance service. “They did a great job helping us out.”

Mineral Wells Fire Chief Ryan Dunn, who has held the title for two years, has been vocal lately to the City Council in recent meetings about the dire situation his department is facing. Mineral Wells Area News spoke with Dunn, who said ideally they should be running with twelve men and women, but actually only have eight or sometimes nine.

Dunn, who came into our interview immediately after getting back from a service call, indicated that he and Assistant Fire Chief Dusty Benthall are both running calls these days. They have too. Finding people to fill the empty positions has proven difficult.

“In the past, we never had to compete with the metroplex, and now we have too because there just aren’t enough paramedics,” said Dunn, continuing on that Covid caused 35% of the field to quit.

He said some paramedics can command six figures now depending on certifications. Low salaries make it hard to retain them here, although he said Council has begun to work on increasing pay.

He also mentioned their call volume had increased significantly and said it was close to a call level of a community the size of Haltom City, which has more than 46,000 people. The extra calls can lead to burn out, said Chief Dunn.

The City will continue to look at solutions and create a plan for the future of emergency services in the community as the budget for the future. The City Council meets tonight July 11 and can be viewed through our live stream on Facebook.

County Judge Shane Long discussion plans to give City of Mineral Wells additional funds

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