STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
SPICEWOOD — With the opening Dec. 18 of a 24-hour emergency medical station, staffed by Marble Falls Area EMS crews, the Spicewood community could see advanced life support response cut in half, officials say.
Marble Falls Area EMS Operations Director Kevin Naumann said proximity and around-the-clock staffing guarantees a “higher level of care.”
The Spicewood VFD-EMS first responders, located within a fire hall on Texas 71, can be on an emergency medical scene in the community within minutes and provide basic life support, but a victim could wait about 22 minutes for higher-level, advanced life support care to arrive from Marble Falls.
“If you’re laying on the floor having a heart attack, gasping for breath, twenty-two minutes can be a lifetime,” said Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery, who helped coordinate with area entities to build the station.
The new Emergency Services District No. 9 facility, located just off Spur 191 on an acre of land adjacent to Spicewood Elementary School, changes that. Marble Falls Area EMS crews will staff the station. Those crews already provided advanced life support service to Spicewood, but the new facility brings a paramedic-staffed ambulance right to the heart of the community.
“We’re taking the response time from almost anywhere within the (Spicewood) area to within a ten-minute response time,” Naumann said.
ESD No. 9 extends from CR 401 where the roadway intersects Texas 71 eastward to the Pedernales River then takes in much of southern Burnet County to the Blanco County line.
About a year ago, Dockery brokered a donation deal with Marble Falls Independent School District for the site. The location came with infrastructure features in place such as connections to the Spicewood Beach Water System and an established driveway on Spur 191.
“It’s like a lot of things that happen in these small counties: You have to work together with a lot of entities in order to accomplish these goals,” Dockery said.
ESDs are voter-approved, special taxing districts that help fund emergency services.
In 2015, Spicewood-area voters approved establishing ESD No. 9, which collects 10 cents per $100 valuation on property taxes to primarily fund fire services.
In 2016, ESD No. 9 began collecting a 2-cent sales tax, approved by voters, which provided another significant funding boost.
“Anything we can do to better protect the health and safety of our citizens is our No. 1 goal,” Dockery said.