BELTON, Texas (KWTX) After months of staffing problems with the city of Belton’s ambulance service, city council members voted Tuesday night to outsource all ambulance services to private companies for the next year.’
Beginning in April, the city entered a test period, operating with just one ambulance, and calling for backup if a second call came in.
The move came after months of staffing issues that forced paramedics to work 48-hour shifts in what city spokesman Paul Romer called a staffing crisis.
Results from the trial showed more than 60 percent of priority 1 calls were answered by the fire department with a typical response time of six to seven minutes.
The rest of the priority 1 calls were left to outside agencies, which had a response time of 13 minutes.
“We think response time will go down significantly once they're here in the city.” Romer said.
The company to which service is outsourced will use the city’s ambulances, which will be stationed at the Belton Fire Department.
Officials are currently in contract discussions with American Medical Response, hoping to finalize the change by October.
“We typically had eight first responders in the city, this will bring us up to 10 at no additional cost to the taxpayer.” Romer said.
“At each fire station typically, we have two firefighters on a truck two on an ambulance, but when AMR comes and moves in we'll have two private folks on an ambulance and then we'll have three Belton firefighters on an engine.”
The change will eliminate the six open positions the department was looking to fill, but current employees are not in jeopardy.
Until the contract is finalized, the city will continue to operate with one ambulance, outsourcing when needed, with fire trucks responding to all priority one calls regardless of which ambulance is called out.