STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
SPICEWOOD — It was the “longest nine minutes” of Karen Bruett’s life. Her husband, Michael, suffered a seizure on Jan. 16 at their Lakeside Beach home, just off Spur 191 in Spicewood, and she dialed 9-1-1.
“He’d never had one before. It was the longest nine minutes of my life, but imagine had it been twenty-five,” she said of the response time of the Marble Falls Area EMS crew. “When they got here, I’ve never been so happy see them.
“They were super-calm and controlled,” she added. “They were wonderful.”
Michael Bruett was transported to Baylor Scott and White Medical Center-Marble Falls and, eventually, to a more specialized care facility in Austin.
“They had stabilized him,” she said. “He’s now getting treatment.”
Had his seizure occurred a month or more before, the wait for paramedic response from Marble Falls probably would have been much longer. On Dec. 18, 2017, Burnet County Emergency Service District No. 9 opened a new emergency medical services station, located just off Spur 191 on an acre of land adjacent to Spicewood Elementary School. Crews from Marble Falls Area EMS staff the station and provide advanced life support response — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Prior to the opening of the Spicewood station, Marble Falls-based units — almost 25 minutes away — responded to the Spicewood area.
Karen Bruett’s story holds much more significance for her family, due to the fact she has served on the board of ESD No. 9 since its inception in 2014.
She never thought she would be calling for an ambulance based in her own community, just three weeks after the new facility opened.
“We were literally planning the open house the day before (his seizure),” she said. “After it all happened with Mike, the first blessing of all is that they were nine minutes away.”
About a year ago, Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery, working with ESD No. 9 board President Byron Zinn, helped broker 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 off the main road.
ESD No. 9’s coverage area 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.
The Marble Falls Area EMS crews already provided advanced life support service to Spicewood, but the new facility brings a paramedic-staffed ambulance closer to the community.
ESD No. 9 commissioners hosted an open house Feb. 10 with area community leaders, who were instrumental in support and donations for the facility.
“It’s a super-great community story,” Karen Bruett said. “I ran into my neighbors, and I said you will be grateful if you have to call.
“Everybody out here is getting a quicker response and a higher level of response,” she added. “It couldn’t have come at a better time as the population grows. It’s peace of mind. It’s wonderful.”