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County eyes funds for new ambulance

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Most drivers would trade in a personal vehicle long before it reaches 197,000 miles. In emergency services, however, the 200,000 mile mark is a matter of course – particularly in Caldwell County, where ambulances run nearly 3,000 calls a year, on an average of 8,300 miles per month.

Because of th

ose figures, Seton, the management company that oversees Lockhart-Caldwell County EMS has asked the City of Lockhart and Caldwell County to replace two ambulances in the next two years – one of them, within the next few months.

“Medic 2 is our ‘last resort’ backup,” said Lockhart-Caldwell County EMS representative Chris Chomel. “Every time we have to use it, I have to send it in for service.”

The unit, purchased in 2008, currently has nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer, and needs to be retired, according to information presented to the Commissioners’ Court on Monday morning.

Through the partnership with the City of Lockhart and Seton, Caldwell County would be responsible for half of the replacement cost, or $99,625, an expense that the Court did not factor into the budget for this fiscal year.

“The last thing I want to do is have a heart attack tomorrow and have you come and get me in Medic 2,” said Caldwell County Judge Kenneth Schawe. “But I haven’t had the chance to look at the budget and see where this money is going to come from.”

Lockhart City Manager Vance Rodgers offered the County an alternative option. The City of Lockhart, he said, has allocated the funds to cover the entire cost of $199,250 for the new ambulance this year. He said the City would purchase the ambulance this year, allowing the County the time to budget and allocate the funds to purchase the second requested ambulance next year, at the same price.

“I’ve been authorized to discuss both options with you,” Rodgers said. “But we would like to proceed as soon as possible with the purchase.”

That cost, according to EMS Administrator Erik Olufs, is a turn-key price, and would allow the new ambulance to be in service immediately.

Commissioner Joe Roland and Commissioner Neto Madrigal questioned what would become of Medic 2 upon its retirement, but plans have not been made for that disposal at this time. According to Chomel, the sale value of the unit would be less than $10,000.

The last retired ambulance was transferred to the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management as a staging vehicle.

The Court will consider the budget options, and vote a decision on the purchase during their next meeting on March 14.

In other business, the Commissioners continue to eye the replacement of electronic hog traps that were damaged during the Halloween floods.

Feral Hog Task Force representative Nick Dornak encourage the Court to purchase the replacement traps and get them “back in action,” as feral hogs continue to be an expensive and pervasive problem for Caldwell County property owners. However, it is unclear what level of reimbursement Caldwell County will receive from FEMA for the replacement traps.

The Court will receive additional information on the purchase and act on the replacement during a later meeting.

In brief news:

The Court authorized a budget amendment for the office of District Attorney Fred Weber, which will use seized funds to purchase software to make discovery in criminal cases available online to defense attorneys.

They authorized a payment of $750 to Val Ramirez for the undocumented harvest of feral hogs between September and December of 2015.

Under the recommendation of Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey, they opted to lift the outdoor burning ban.

They made a donation to the Tri-Community Library for the library’s membership in the TexShare program under the Central Texas Library System.

They waived the septic and construction fees for the construction of the Delhi Volunteer Fire Department.

The Caldwell County Commissioners Court routinely meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the second floor courtroom of the Caldwell County Courthouse. The meetings are open to the public and are webcast at www.co.caldwell.tx.us.