After considering four emergency medical service delivery alternatives to help improve response times, accountability and governance, the Fort Worth City Council’s ad hoc committee on emergency medical services recommended on April 16 to move EMS service from current provider MedStar to the city's fire department.

The big picture

Of four possible EMS delivery alternatives that the committee received from emergency services consultant Fitch & Associates on Feb. 20, members of the committee recommended the fire department-based EMS model.

According to a city news release, the fire department-based model would result in the following:
  • An improvement in response times by as much as 5 ½ minutes
  • A more sustainable workload for paramedics and emergency medical technicians
  • Long-term financial health
The four models that Fitch & Associates offered to the city committee included:
  • Current system provider: MedStar continues to provide EMS under a contract.
  • Fire department-based model: Fort Worth's Fire Department establishes a division of EMS. Houston, Dallas and San Antonio all use this model.
  • Third service model: The city establishes and operates a separate EMS or third public safety service managed by the city. Austin-Travis County EMS use this model.
  • Private contractor model with purchased unit hours: The city contracts with a private contractor through a competitive procurement process. MedStar would be able to bid for the contract.
A closer look

According to a company website, MedStar has been Fort Worth’s EMS provider for nearly 40 years. Part of the Fitch & Associates report found that MedStar, which also provides emergency medical services and ambulance care to 14 surrounding cities, is “under-resourced” and fell short of desired objectives in 2023. MedStar CEO Ken Simpson recommended the fire department-based model option as the best path forward while praising MedStar EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers and other employees for decades of exceptional service, according to the news release.

The news release states that the committee will finalize its recommendation at its April 30 meeting.