ESD 2 increasing payments to VFDs

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

May 5, 2022

The Hill County Emergency Services District (ESD) 2 Board of Commissioners voted to increase payments to fire departments for responding to medical calls in the county during a regular meeting held Tuesday, April 26.

In March, Doreen Strickland of Abbott Volunteer Fire Department told the board that the rising costs of fuel and equipment have left many departments strapped for cash, and she requested that the district consider increasing payments.

Prior to the board’s action, ESD 2 budgeted $8,750 per quarter to divvy up between fire departments that have been certified as first responder organizations. The money is allocated on a per-call basis to departments submitting reports to the district.

For the most recent quarter, eight departments were issued checks for their response to 182 calls. The payments came to approximately $48 per call.

The board voted to increase the budget 20 percent, giving the district $10,500 per quarter to divide between departments.

The county’s firefighters will also be given lift assist belts by ESD 2 after the board voted to purchase two devices for each fire department. The belts will assist firefighters in safely lifting individuals, and they require fewer firefighters to do the job. The board approved an expense of up to $5,000 for the belts.

The board also approved the purchase of AEDs for Hill County constables. ESD 2 previously purchased the units for sheriff’s office patrol vehicles, and the additional purchase will ensure that the county’s four constables and one deputy constable also have the life-saving devices. The board also approved the purchase of a unit for Hill County Emergency Management if needed.

Precinct 2 Constable Justin Girsh, who was in attendance, told the board that he recently performed CPR on an individual on the side of Highway 22, and he said that the AEDs will be another tool in constables’ toolbox to assist the public.

The board approved the purchase of up to six AEDs at an estimated cost of $10,315. As with the previous purchase for the sheriff’s office, the county will be responsible for maintenance and repairs, and the individuals will need to be trained prior to taking possession of the AEDs.

Board President Tad Duncan reported that a hearing has been set regarding the eviction process involving the district’s new property on Farm Road 67. The district has reportedly been working with a previous tenant living on the property for some time after she failed to leave following the sale. She appealed after an earlier eviction ruling and a hearing has been set for Tuesday, May 10.

Colby Grady with Salt Ridge Properties told the board that he is still waiting for the city and Oncor to perform necessary work at the district’s new facility on Outlet Drive in Hillsboro.

The district is waiting for the city to raise the level of the street, which has sunk due to traffic in the area, so that the driveway can be poured. Oncor will also need to set poles and run electrical service to the property. Once that work is completed, Grady said that construction should be wrapped up within a couple of weeks.

The monthly report from CareFlite showed crews responding to 368 calls in March with 234 transports. The majority of patients were transported to Providence Health Center (25 percent), Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest (24 percent) and Hill Regional Hospital (19 percent).

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