The city of Fort Worth Fire Department will establish an emergency medical services system within the city limits.

Fort Worth City Council members voted 11-0 to approve a memorandum of understanding between the city and MedStar Mobile Healthcare member cities to remove itself from the interlocal agreement on May 21.

That will dissolve MedStar, an ambulance service that handled EMS calls in Fort Worth and 13 other cities and villages.

Craig Trojacek, Fort Worth Fire Department public information officer, said the transition from MedStar to the Fort Worth Fire Department will be a 12- to 18-month process that has now started.

According to city documents, the Fort Worth Fire Department will add a new certified EMT/paramedic to each station. In addition, Trojacek said all MedStar employees will become employees of the city of Fort Worth.

“I want to commend MedStar and its leadership, and its rank and file for doing a tremendous job to date,” council member Carlos Flores said. “They have been fighting an uphill battle. They ran out of financial runway, but they did not run out of dedication. We're here to change the system to a sustainable model. We owe that to the taxpayers of the city of Fort Worth. The fire department stands ready, and is collaborating with our MedStar partners and member cities to make this happen.”

Flores also chaired City Council’s ad hoc committee on emergency medical response.

The background

According to its website, the Metropolitan Area Emergency Service Authority was created by the city of Fort Worth in 1986. In 2005, interlocal agreements were reached with nearby towns to provide services outside city limits. MedStar covers 436 square miles in Tarrant County with a fleet of 65 ambulances, according to its website.

MedStar provides service in Fort Worth, Blue Mound, Edgecliff Village, Forest Hill, Haltom City, Haslet, Lakeside, Lake Worth, River Oaks, Saginaw, Sansom Park, Westover Hills, Westworth Village and White Settlement.

Fort Worth City Council approved a $2.6 billion budget on Sept. 19, including $4.2 million going to MedStar Mobile Healthcare for transitional funding to help with the company’s financial issues.

The ad hoc council committee on emergency medical response operations was formed last fall, and looked at MedStar’s services and other options. Findings were presented to city staff in April.

A comprehensive study completed by Fitch & Associates concluded that MedStar, which provides emergency medical services, was “under-resourced” and fell short of desired objectives in terms of response time in 2023.

City Council will create two advisory boards as a result of the change: the EMS Advisory Board and the Medical Control Board.

What they’re saying

“I believe that the decision you are about to make is good for the citizens. It's good for the employees of MedStar, and it's good for the Fort Worth Fire Department,” said Michael Glynn, president at Fort Worth Firefighters Association-IAFF Local 440. “I’m excited about the future. I'm excited about what this means for the Fort Worth Fire Department. I don't want to miss how big of a day this is for the city of Fort Worth and for the fire department. This is a big change, and we're looking forward to it, and it will be exciting in the months to come.”