Doug Hooten, executive director of Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11, updated residents on the district's preparations for its new ambulance service during a keynote speaker series event hosted by the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce May 13.
ESD No. 11 Mobile Health Services, the district's new ambulance service, is set to debut on Sept. 4 when the district's contract ends with current service provider, Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services.
As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the district hired Hooten, who has more than 40 years of experience in the industry, as its first executive director in early December.
Most recently, the district broke ground on its new 43-acre campus May 7, which is located at 18334 Stuebner Airline Road, Spring. According to Hooten, the first phase of construction is expected to wrap up by Aug. 16.
In addition to the new campus, Hooten said ESD No. 11 will also be purchasing 40 new ambulances, which are expected to be onsite by Sept. 1. Hooten said ESD No. 11 Mobile Health Services will have 28 ambulances staffed and deployed during peak times and 18 ambulances staffed and deployed during slower times of the day. Ten of those ambulances will be permanently housed at local fire stations throughout the district's 177-square-mile service area, he added.
"Everything that you could ever need in an ambulance to provide the levels of service that are required at any given time, will be available to [the staff] so we're pretty excited about being able to do that, which I think will enhance the level of service the community currently gets," Hooten said. "Not that there's anything wrong with the current level of service, but it does fill some gaps."
To pay for these investments, Hooten said the district does not foresee any tax rate increases.
To staff the new ambulance service, the district also began accepting applications in late April, with the goal of hiring 150 employees across 12 positions including paramedics, emergency medical technicians, supervisors and 911 telecommunicators. However, Hooten said EMTs and paramedics who are already servicing the ESD No. 11 area will be guaranteed employment and matching pay.
"Our focus is currently on the people who have been servicing the district for all these years, so our intent is to honor their seniority and their contributions to the district," Hooten said.
Hooten said ESD No. 11 Mobile Health Services will have at least one EMT and one paramedic staffing every ambulance and will continue to follow evidence-based, standard medical protocols. Hooten also said the new ambulances service will work with schools, churches and other local organizations to host Stop the Bleed and CPR training sessions.
"My only focus here is to put together the ambulance service and make sure that we put ambulances in front of addresses with competent, caring folks every single day," Hooten said. "The good news is ... there's already a legacy of that in this community and there's no reason to think that should ever go away. We need to find a way to build on that legacy, not tear it down."
While it is still unclear what will happen to CCEMS after its contract with ESD No. 11 ends in September, CCEMS CEO Wren Nealy said the entity has "several exciting business opportunities" on its horizon.
"Currently, we are attempting to work with the district to ensure a safe and orderly transition," Nealy said in a statement. "In September, we will be very busy after our contract ends with ESD 11. CCEMS is looking forward to several exciting business opportunities, which will allow us to continue providing the gold-standard emergency care that people have come to expect from us over the last 46 years."
Bobby Lieb, president and CEO of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber hopes to host a similar event in the future allowing CCEMS to share their plan going forward.