An ambulance service covering Pauls Valley is reaching out for some help to cover the unfunded costs of going on calls out into the rural areas.
Pauls Valley's police chief, Mitch McGill, made the plea during a presentation Monday to all three Garvin County commissioners.
The request from the city of Pauls Valley was for $44,000 in county funds to help PV Ambulance Service District No. 1 continue making runs outside of the local city limits but still in the district.
McGill says the request is meant for the ambulance service to have the funding to keep answering all those important calls for help.
“We're providing an ambulance service 24/7 to a large area that includes a lot of people in the rural areas that we're not getting paid for,” McGill told the commissioners during a weekly meeting.
“It's to the point where you cannot afford to do that anymore.
“We're not trying to make money. We're just trying to break even. We don't want to quit. We want to be able to serve all the people.”
Right now the city of Pauls Valley has contracted with Mercy Ambulance to provide two fully staffed, paramedic level ambulances to cover a district that goes goes from just south of the old state school, then north all the way to the McClain County line and travels from state Highway 133 to the east all the way to just west of Interstate 35.
The figures offered to commissioners show the cost for the service is $23,600 a month totaling $283,000 for a year.
On the other side of that equation the district is funded by about $240,000 a year in ad valorem tax, which is only assessed to property within the city limits of Pauls Valley.
“The city has already reached into its own pockets,” McGill said. “We don't have any more pockets. We're struggling financially like everybody else. This is a little bit of begging for you to help us out.”
The funding request is meant to fill the gaps as many of the ambulance runs are going out in the rural areas where taxes are not collected for the service.
He estimates around a quarter of the local ambulance calls actually come from outside of Pauls Valley.
Numbers provided show the Mercy EMS calls since January 2020 have totaled nearly 1,000 with 249 of those coming outside the city limits.
The PV district owns two aging ambulances, which along with four other Mercy vehicles, are rotated through as the fleet now providing round-the-clock ambulance services.
“We bid this out last January. The next lowest one was $50,000 plus a month, and Mercy is doing that for $23,000.”
McGill also continued his previous urging for commissioners to consider stepping in to help provide a better ambulance service covering all Garvin County residents.
“I recommend we have a county tax. I have for some time. We need more ambulances,” he said.
“I urge you guys to look at funding sources so we can provide a better service in the county.”
Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham recommended no action on the funding request until she's had more time to read the proposed agreement.
Dillingham was also quick to add she and Dave Johnson, Garvin County's emergency management direction, were beginning the process of looking closer into creating a plan to address ambulance services throughout the entire county.
The pandemic brought that work to a screeching halt, but the plan to come up with something better has not gone away.
She said their focus is on the possibility of establishing 522 EMS districts in the future.
The 522 districts, which must be first approved by voters in the separate districts, would be governed by independent boards made up of residents in those districts. The districts could assess property taxes and possibly issue bonds to fund the ambulance service.