North Texas

Fort Worth considers new models for EMS system after Fitch & Associates releases report

Fort Worth, Texas – The City of Fort Worth is getting closer to making a significant decision about the future of its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system, one of the most important parts of the city’s public safety infrastructure. This happens after a new study from Fitch & Associates was released recently. Fitch & Associates was hired last November to look at the city’s current EMS operations, which are run by MedStar, as well as to explore alternative emergency service models.

MedStar, which currently handles emergencies in Fort Worth and 13 other cities, is at a crossroads as the city looks at four possible ways to move forward that are laid out in the study. These options range from maintaining the status quo with MedStar, adopting a fire-based EMS system, introducing a third EMS service, to hiring private contractors for emergency services. Each choice comes with its financial implications for the region’s taxpayers, from $3.2 million to upwards of $63 million.

The cost of each option:

  • Keep MedStar – with an estimated cost of $3.2 million from taxpayer money across the region.
  • Adopt a fire-based system – with costs ranging from $10.5 million to $63 million, depending on system implementations.
  • Adding a third EMS service, with costs ranging from $15.3 million to $55.3 million, depending on system implementations.
  • Or using private contractors, with the average costs estimated to be around $9.4 million.

The report, which was the main topic of Tuesday’s Ad Hoc Committee meeting for EMS Services, indicates that any of the suggested models would involve giving control to the City of Fort Worth and merging the 911 communications center to enhance efficiency and response times.

Matt Zavadesky, a spokesman for MedStar, talked about the organization’s money problems, which have become more severe by a growing population and low insurance reimbursement rates. MedStar has been struggling with this problem for years. Without significant changes, MedStar risks depleting its financial reserves.

Councilman Carlos Flores and Assistant City Manager Valerie Washington emphasized the importance of not only focusing on response times but also on the workload shouldered by MedStar’s EMTs and paramedics. The goal is to keep the EMS staff from being too busy and to make sure that the city’s emergency medical services can last for a long time.

According to the report by Fitch & Associates, giving MedStar more resources could cut reaction times by up to 5.5 minutes, which would be an enormous advancement for emergency medical services. Zavadesky said that the results back up long-standing worries raised by MedStar, which makes the city’s decision-making process even more important.

As Fort Worth deliberates on these options, further discussions are scheduled in upcoming Ad Hoc Committee meetings before the final recommendations are presented to the full council for a vote.

There isn’t a set date for the decision yet, but the city’s leaders are under a lot of pressure to make sure that the health and safety of its residents stay a top concern by planning a long-term and effective path for its EMS services.

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