Proposed Spicewood EMS station would cut response time

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

Officials have proposed a $250,000 to $300,000 EMS station to be staffed by paid paramedics in Spicewood. Courtesy rendering

Officials have proposed a $250,000 to $300,000 EMS station to be staffed by paid paramedics in Spicewood. Courtesy rendering

SPICEWOOD —  A proposed EMS facility in Spicewood that would be built in cooperation with three government entities could cut response time and provide enhanced emergency medical care for residents in the southeastern portion of Burnet County, officials say.

Officials with the newly created Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 9 have proposed a 3,500-square-foot building, which could cost from $250,000 to $300,000, that would offer 24-hour service with vehicles and equipment and cost about $500,000 annually to operate.

Since voters approved a 2-percent sales tax through ESD No. 9, the entity has shouldered broader funding responsibilities for EMS services and would provide the seed money for the project.

Marble Falls Independent School District trustees have proposed offering land for the facility north of the Spicewood Elementary School, 1005 Spur 191.

“We were able to locate this portion of the Spicewood Elementary site that has the ability to get us out to a good public highway there on Spur 191, has public water available through the Corix system, and, through this partnership with the school district, will come at no cost to the ESD,” Burnet County Precint 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery said.

“We’re trying to move this forward as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

On Nov. 14, MFISD passed a resolution of support for the project, which entailed donating the land for the facility.

Burnet County commissioners have resolved to support an amended contract with Marble Falls Area EMS to operate out of the facility when it becomes operational.

“If we don’t build these collaborations and cooperation between these entities, we don’t get these kinds of projects done,” Dockery said. “It’s very financially challenging.”

The unincorporated Spicewood Community currently receives emergency medical care through volunteer EMS first responders who are stationed at the Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department, 9805 Texas 71.

Burnet County contracts with Marble Falls Area EMS, headquartered 15 miles away at 609 Industrial Blvd. in Marble Falls, to provide additional EMS coverage of the area.

Officials predict enhanced services once the project is complete.

“The real difference is the decrease in response time,” said Byron Zinn, president and a commissioner for ESD No. 9. “What it means for the Spicewood area with the growth coming along the (Texas) 71 corridor (is) we are able to get emergency services — quality emergency services — to the community so much quicker than we ever have before.”

Currently, the Spicewood volunteer first responders, who are trained emergency medical technicians, arrive in approximately 10 minutes to a scene, officials said.

Paramedics from the Marble Falls agency arrive, on average, about 10 minutes after the initial response from volunteers.

As the new facility becomes operational, officials intend to continue utilizing volunteers along with Marble Falls Area EMS paramedics.

The next step for the county involves approving a topographic survey at the Dec. 20 commissioners meeting, Dockery said.

The facility could break ground the first part of June 2017 with construction continuing through the summer to minimize disruption to Spicewood Elementary, Zinn said.

Officials hope to be operational by the end of 2017.

“The 71 corridor is already getting a lot of industry. We’re getting more and more discussion with developers about incoming growth for housing, and Travis County is pushing farther west,” Dockery said. “We’re going to try to address that by being ahead of the curve on the EMS side of it.

“From the county’s aspect, nothing could please me more than being able to provide people better public safety,” he added.

connie@thepicayune.com

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