GILMER -- Pittsburg-based Camp County EMS received two calls within only eight minutes after taking over ambulance service in the city of Gilmer at 7 a.m. Sunday, said Executive Director Mike Reynolds.
In fact, the first call was at 7:01, the second at 7:08, and two more calls came at 8:02 and 8:50 a.m., he said.
Camp County EMS took over ambulance service in the city from Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center, which notified Gilmer officials in November that it would cease providing such service locally March 1. The city and Camp County EMS reached an agreement under which the city pays no subsidy, and the ambulance service will pay $1,200 monthly to rent a city-owned building now under construction on U.S. 271.
The contract is good through July 7, 2018.
For now, Camp County EMS is stationing ambulances at the former site of Jimmy Stanley Construction on 271, a short distance south of where the EMS firm will eventually be housed. (ETMC was also stationing its ambulances at the one-time construction firm.) Reynolds said construction on the city-owned building is expected to be completed sometime this month.
Camp County EMS is covering all of northern and western Upshur County, and parts of the county's eastern and southern sections, including all of Texas 300 and the City of East Mountain, he said.
Big Sandy, which was also served by ETMC, signed a contract with Champion EMS for ambulance service, said Reynolds. In Upshur County, Champion also serves Ore City, Diana, Gladewater, and some of the surrounding areas, he said.
"We're pretty much covering everything else," and operations are "so far, so good," Reynolds said Monday afternoon.
The EMS is stationing a minimum of two ambulances in Gilmer, and can utilize other units out of Pittsburg when all Gilmer-based ones are busy, Reynolds said. "As a matter of fact, that's what we did yesterday," he noted Monday.
ETMC, which ended ambulance service in Gilmer after closing its hospital, emergency room, and doctors' clinic in the city over a period of a few months, refunded all of its Gilmer members' ambulance subscriptions, said Reynolds. However, the Tyler-based operation sent them information on where to contact Camp County EMS for membership, said Reynolds.
Any Upshur Countian can buy a pro-rated membership for $30, good through Sept. 30, whether they were ETMC subscribers or not, he said.Camp County EMS can be contacted at (903) 856-7102.
Reynolds said his firm could not have a mid-year membership drive, but would have one from Aug. 1 through the end of September. Memberships can be purchased then for the period of Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016, he said.
He also said his firm had hired nine persons who had either manned ETMC ambulances in Gilmer, or who are Upshur County residents. In addition, Camp County EMS hired additional personnel from other places for its expansion into Gilmer, he said.
Reynolds noted he has assigned one employee to be a liaison to volunteer fire departments' first responders in Upshur County. His firm is working with such responders to reestablish their certification if it has expired, and to expand usage of those personnel, he added.