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New Llano County EMS service going ‘fast and furious’ in first several days

Hamilton EMS ambulances outfitted with robotic arm

Patrick Cobb, director of Hamilton County Hospital District EMS, demonstrates how a robotic arm is used to move a stretcher in and out of an ambulance. The feature is part of each ambulance serving Llano County and holds up to 750 pounds. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Since Hamilton EMS took over emergency medical services in Llano County on Dec. 31, crews have been hard at work responding to more than 100 calls in the first eight days. 

“It’s been fast and furious,” said Patrick Cobb, director of Hamilton County Hospital District EMS and Emergency Management. Hamilton EMS is under the hospital district’s umbrella.

But the call volume wasn’t unexpected and is one of the reasons Hamilton EMS stationed four full-time Mobile Intensive Care units and crews in Llano County, an increase of one unit over the previous EMS provider.

Hamilton EMS has a station on Bob Street in Kingsland, another at the Llano County Annex at 8347 RR 1431 near Fuzzy’s Corner, and two at MidCoast Central, the new Llano hospital, which opened Jan. 1 and is operated by MidCoast Health System.

“Hamilton EMS is proud to partner with Llano Mid Coast Hospital in providing high-quality medical care in Llano County,” Cobb said.

Hamilton EMS took over emergency medical services for Llano County after Baylor Scott & White Healthcare announced earlier in 2020 that it would not be renewing its EMS contract with the county in the new year. The healthcare provider also didn’t renew its contract to manage the Llano hospital.

Llano County leaders reached an agreement with Hamilton County Hospital District in 2020 to provide EMS coverage. The county also contracted with Mid Coast Health to manage the Llano hospital. 

Officials said the strategically stationed Llano County ambulances and crews are in a good position to reach people. Of the calls during the first eight days since Hamilton EMS took over, 65 percent came from the Kingsland area. 

The crews have transported patients to the Llano hospital, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Marble Falls, and Ascension Seton Highland Lakes in Burnet, just to name a few.

“We’ll take the patient where they want to go and need to go,” Cobb said. “(The Bob Street station) is right in the middle of where we need it to be; right in the middle of the city and where the majority of the calls come from.”

Hamilton County Hospital District is upgrading and renovating several of the ambulance stations, spending almost $50,000 at the county annex location. 

Each of the Hamilton EMS ambulances stationed in Llano County feature four-wheel drive and are outfitted with the latest in emergency medical equipment. Each ambulance also has a robotic arm that lifts patients and wheels them into the vehicle

“They hold 750 pounds,” Cobb said of the robotic arm. “That’s important if transporting a patient that weighs 400 and 500 pounds.”

Stationed at the annex location is a supervisor’s vehicle, a four-wheel drive, four-door pickup truck with a camper attached to it. But it’s not for camping. 

Cobb said this truck has the equipment of an ambulance but can get to places an ambulance can’t such as deer blinds, campgrounds, and other remote locations.

Hamilton EMS is still taking applications for additional paramedics with a Friday, Jan. 15, deadline. Applications are available online.

A previous EMS station, adjacent to Lakeshore Branch Library in Buchanan Dam, now sits vacant. 

In December, Llano County commissioners approved turning over the building to the library. 

“Since the community raised the money for it, we’re happy it’ll be back in use,” said library Director Melissa Macdougall. 

She said the library is looking at ways to best utilize the space.