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Texas city drops MedStar, switches to fire-based EMS

Officials in Fort Worth recommended a fire-based EMS system as the solution to overhaul the city’s EMS

By Bill Carey

FORT WORTH, Texas — MedStar will soon stop being Fort Worth’s EMS provider after over 38 years.

Following six months of review, Fort Worth’s EMS committee recommended on April 16 that the city adopt a fire-based EMS model.

This change, costing about $10 million, would integrate existing MedStar staff into roles exclusively dedicated to medical responses within the fire department, the Fort Worth Report reported.

Matt Zavadsky, MedStar’s chief transformation officer, stated in a written release that the entire MedStar team is dedicated to collaborating with the city for a smooth transition.

“We are also committed to working collaboratively with the city to help assure that the more than 500 MedStar team members, many of whom have served this community for more than 30 years, are able to fairly transition into any new EMS system delivery model,” Zavadsky said.

Fort Worth’s EMS system overhaul followed MedStar’s admission that rising costs and lower reimbursements challenged its sustainability. Although the city initially contemplated a funding plan, no funds were allocated.

Mayor Mattie Parker’s EMS committee proactively analyzed the city’s emergency service options, ultimately considering a fire-based EMS among four models suggested by Fitch & Associates, the consulting firm engaged last October.

The plan is to integrate MedStar staff into the city’s fire-based EMS, though it’s undecided whether they will be civilian or sworn employees. Sworn employees, who are part of the IAFF 440 fire union, receive certain protections due to their status.

Once MedStar dissolves, Fort Worth will inherit its facilities and assets, including ambulances, and will contract to provide EMS services to other member cities. Without these assets, the fire-based EMS system’s cost could jump to $50 million.