Three medics are on a mission to increase the number of ambulances and decrease the wait times for emergency services throughout Bastrop County.

Two-minute impact

Bastrop County First Responders volunteers Preston McGrew, Caleb Peck and Paul Hightower brought a plan to county commissioners on June 24, and City Council members on June 25, to establish Emergency Services District No. 3 to service all of Bastrop County.

Current situation

McGrew said ESD No. 3 would provide local ambulance services for the nearly 900-square-mile county. McGrew said this would nearly triple the number of units in the area, noting that the county is currently serviced by four contracted units through Acadian, whose contract expires in May 2025.

“Right now, we frequently go to level zero, which means there are no ambulances available anywhere in the county,” McGrew said. “When that happens, an ambulance is sent in from another location—whether that is San Marcos, Austin or sometimes even as far as Jarell.”

McGrew said under the current system, they regularly see response times between 30 minutes to an hour, regardless of the situation.

Volunteers like McGrew, Peck and Hightower have been responding to help stabilize patients as best they can, but their hands are sometimes tied because they are not legally allowed to transport anyone, McGrew said.

“This just isn’t sustainable as a long-term solution, especially with the population growth we are seeing in Bastrop County,” McGrew added.

The approach

With the addition of ESD No. 3, McGrew said some of their goals would include:
  • Building nine stations strategically placed throughout the county to facilitate a maximum 15-minute response time for any call
  • Staffing 11 ambulances, with room to accommodate more as the county grows
  • Creating 75 “good-paying jobs” to run ESD No. 3
  • Working with county officials to employ 911 dispatchers who are trained and able to assist with triage and cardiopulmonary resuscitation over the phone
The cost

ESD No. 3 would be funded through property taxes at $0.10 per $100 of a property’s value—the same used for other ESDs in the county.

“I don’t want to pay more taxes than I have to either, but I would pay double the amount that we are talking about today to ensure that we have better ambulance services in this county,” McGrew said during the council meeting.

What’s next

Residents can voice their opinions at the next council meeting at Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut St., on July 9 at 6:30 p.m., or during the county commissioner’s meeting at the courthouse annex, 804 Pecan St., on Aug. 12 at 9 a.m.

In his own words

“We have been working on this [proposal] for two years,” McGrew said. “We know there is a need in our community for faster response times and better-quality care for our residents.”