LUBBOCK, Texas– After ten months of negotiations, Shallowater city officials said they reached a stalemate with UMC regarding assistance with their EMS services.
Shallowater, who currently still pays for the services, asked UMC to take over paying for the services in full. Over the course of the negotiations, UMC drafted two counter-offers for Shallowater.
According to Gary Vaughn, the director for Shallowater EMS, the city would pay UMC $120,000 annually for them to take over the services. Vaughn said that is approximately how much they currently pay to run their own services.
The second option including paying UMC $30,000 and they would station a truck at Franford Avenue and Clovis Road when available, he said.
“If their call volume is high or something has happened, they are going to be pulling the truck and running the calls in Lubbock,” Vaughn said. “Maybe a different truck comes out versus the one we are supposedly paying a stipend to keep at that location and that’s not good for the people out here again.”
Vaughn and the council pushed UMC to cover service costs in full. After all, Vaughn said in 1975 when the Lubbock County Hospital District EMS was created, they were responsible for providing those services to the cities within the county.
When UMC established their name in the early 2000’s, he said everything began to change.
“We have gotten to a point in Shallowater where we can’t afford to put in as much as we are putting in every year to keep it running,” he said. “So we are looking for the hospital district to step up and take care of the county citizens, keeping the hospital Lubbock County EMS operating.”
In a statement from EMS acknowledging these negotiations, they said in part:
UMC EMS will respond to calls in and around the community of Shallowater. When someone calls 911 requesting an ambulance, UMC EMS will respond… Ultimately, the City of Shallowater bears responsibility for providing 911 emergency medical services within its community and must develop a plan for providing this service in a sustainable way over the long term.”
(Full statement below)
Vaughn noted the city looked at redistributing budgets and applying for grants, but none were possible.
Shallowater residents said their city is growing every year, and safety continues to be a big concern.
“We have diabetic children, we have elderly. Our town is growing and with all the construction going on the highway, we have wrecks and I don’t thing it would be very beneficial to put a truck out on Frankford,” said Pam Light, a Shallowater resident.
Vaughn said city council members reached out to county commissioners and the county judge, but they said they could only allocate budgets, not control them. If citizens want to help, Vaughn urged them to call the county and express their concerns.
Other residents believed the two parties need to look beyond money and politics for the sake of their safety.
“I think they are more concerned about the money and the budget. I think we need to take into consideration the citizens and know that we need that service” said Norma Baeza, a mother of a diabetic child who lives in Shallowater.
Full press release from UMC Health System regarding Shallowater EMS:
UMC EMS will respond to calls in and around the community of Shallowater. When someone calls 911 requesting an ambulance, UMC EMS will respond.
UMC learned of Shallowater’s desire to close their EMS service in August 2018 from local media stories. After the story broke, Shallowater elected officials reached out to UMC for assistance with their EMS service.
Since approximately 1977, UMC has provided Shallowater’s emergency medical services with an ambulance, medical supplies, medicines, and medical gasses. Shallowater’s responsibility was to cover the costs associated with staffing this ambulance with qualified staff. Starting in 2002, UMC began providing monthly stipend payments to Shallowater to assist with the costs associated with staffing the ambulance, as the community had increasing difficulty with staffing. The amount of the stipend totaled $70,037 in 2017 and $66,302.00 in 2018.
Shallowater proposes that UMC assume all costs associated with operating the 911 EMS system for their community. UMC estimates the cost of this proposal at $454,500. UMC has offered to operate the system as requested for annual payment of $120,000, a $334,500 discount from the estimated cost of operating the service. Shallowater dismissed this proposal. UMC then offered an alternative model at a cost of $30,000 per year.
Ultimately, the City of Shallowater bears responsibility for providing 911 emergency medical services within its community and must develop a plan for providing this service in a sustainable way over the long term.