Published July 10, 2014
By Devin Corbitt, News Editor
Belton’s City Council meeting was short and sweet on Tuesday, but council members approved an item that may prove to have a significant impact on the city throughout the next year.
Belton Fire Chief Francisco Corona presented the second hearing for an agreement between the city and Capital EMS to operate a non-emergency ambulance transfer service within Belton. This agreement would allow Capital EMS to transfer non-emergency patients to hospitals, such as nursing home residents for check-ups. The city currently responds to approximately 200 non-emergency calls per year.
“The need is going to increase because of the number of calls and the system being overwhelmed,” Corona said. “When we need an additional ambulance or when our ambulances are tied up, they (Capital EMS) can help us.”
As per the approved agreement, Capital EMS will respond to non-emergency calls within the city, as well as providing back-up services whenever the city’s ambulances are in use. Capital EMS agreed to provide these back-up services in return for a waiver on the 5 percent franchise fee normally charged in such arrangements.
“It’s an opportunity to stretch our services a little bit, particularly in the western edge where they’re located,” City Manager Sam Listi said. “It does seem like something that would give us an advantage and a little bit of additional service opportunity.”
Capital EMS has a similar agreement with the Cities of Copperas Cove and Harker Heights, who has given Corona a positive review of Capital EMS’s services.
“Harker Heights’ (feedback) was positive,” Corona said. “I talked to the Chief and the Assistant Chief, and they (Capital EMS) do have a lot of services that the city appreciates. In (Copperas) Cove they do a similar service. The feedback is all positive. They’re good, professional people and they provide a good service.”
Capital EMS employs more than 200 fully certified EMTs and operates all over Central Texas.
“Every ambulance that I have is certified with the state’s Mobile Intensive Care Unit, which is the exact same unit that you currently with your ambulances in the city,” Capital EMS owner Damon Faught said. “I provide 9-1-1 services for Lampasas County, Falls County and the City of Nolanville. The city has had issues in the past, and since we’ve been there, we’ve been able to stabilize that.”
The council also approved the abandonment of a 0.223-acre portion of land on Sparks Street south of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
The street, which has been converted into part of the Hike and Bike Trail, has not been used as a roadway for some time. UMHB has proposed taking over maintenance responsibilities for the land east of the Hike and Bike Trail, as well as erecting a wrought iron fence five feet east of the trail. The agreement would not affect the Hike and Bike Trail.
“One of the things I really like about this was I’m not adding any additional staff to support our parks system, and if UMHB doesn’t take this, I will be supporting the side of the trail all the way to their property line,” Public Works Director Mike Huber said. “So anything I can eliminate that we wouldn’t really use anyway, that I wouldn’t have to cut down trees on, maintain the drainage or mow the grass, I see as a win for the city.”
The ordinance passed 5-0.