Texas EMS to double station size to respond to growing population

The upgraded station will provide more space to house 14 medics, five emergency vehicles and office staff, as well as a 1,000-square-foot classroom

Luz Moreno-Lozano
Austin American-Statesman

WIMBERLEY, Texas — When Bradley Wilson was an emergency medical technician in Wimberley in the early 1990s, he said responding to calls looked a lot different.

The city's population was much smaller, meaning fewer calls. No one was living in the station, which caused delays in response times, and the closest hospital was in San Marcos, which meant trips took up to 45 minutes each way, he said.

The Wimberley EMS station will double in size in an upgrade that will allow the agency to better respond to a growing population.
The Wimberley EMS station will double in size in an upgrade that will allow the agency to better respond to a growing population. (Photo/Jay Janner, American-Statesman)

While a few medical clinics have popped up around the area, Wimberley's emergency medical service crews are still needed more than ever, and the city is answering that demand with an upgraded EMS station.

Wimberley EMS Director Ken Strange said the facility will provide more space to house 14 paramedics, five emergency vehicles and office staff — space that he says has been desperately needed to properly care for patients.

The upgraded station, which has stood in the same location since 1995, is doubling in size, he said, growing from about 4,100 square feet to about 8,000 square feet. It will be outfitted with a triage room to care for patients who walk up on-site, and can also be used as a health clinic.

"The triage room is going to be great, because before if we had a resident walk in who might need stitches, or was experiencing chest pain, we'd have to sit them in our billing office, or at our dining room table, to examine them," Strange said, adding that the new space will allow crew to care for patients in a more safe and private area.

He said the building also will include a 1,000-square-foot classroom to host community CPR classes, conduct in-house training and offer EMT classes.

Strange, who began his stint with Wimberley EMS in 1991 and took over as director in July 2004, said that when he took over the agency, it ran about 1,600 calls a year.

Today, his EMS crews run about 2,300 calls a year, serving about 20,000 people across 165 square miles of western Hays County, including Wimberley, Woodcreek, portions of Driftwood, rural San Marcos and unincorporated portions of western Hays County.

For a veteran EMT like Wilson, a lot has changed since he last served Wimberley in 1992, adding that in the past decade Dripping Springs, San Marcos and Wimberley have grown, making it easier to access health care and emergency services.

The key difference, he said, is having paramedics live in the station, which quickens response times. The more space the station has, the larger the response crew can be. And with a patient assessment area, that improves on-site care capabilities.

"So if someone walks in having a heart attack, which happened to me while I was there, they don't have to call a crew," he said. "There is already a crew there, and they now have the facility space to do patient care right there. It really is a well-thought-out building."

As the city of Wimberley and the surrounding areas continue to grow, so will the need for more emergency services, he said.

"Call volume is dictated by population," Wilson said. "Wimberley has grown, and that has necessitated the need for larger EMS response, because the more people there are, the more calls there are."

Strange said his EMS crews will be prepared to handle that with a satellite station. He said the city is still trying to figure out a location, but that would be something that will happen over the next few years.


(c)2020 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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