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Lufkin City Council votes unanimously to cease EMS services to county

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:41 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Citing response time difficulties, the Lufkin City Council voted to cease EMS services to Angelina County as of Jan. 1.

Lufkin cannot stage ambulances all around the county, Council member Bruce Green said. Points made in favor of Lufkin EMS ceasing response outside the city limits were:

1. Lengthy EMS response times endanger residents outside the Lufkin city limits. This is not because of poor care, but because of distance.

2. Growing deficits in revenues and large volume of countywide calls threatens the viability of the city’s EMS response to local citizens.

3. Angelina County is better suited than the city to provide county medical services than the city. The county can stage ambulances throughout the county to cut response times significantly and provide excellent medical response in doing so.

They will be able to do this by contracting with ambulance services, or by creating and emergency services district in Angelina County.

During its meeting on July 2, the City of Lufkin recommended to Angelina County and its municipalities to assume responsibility for emergency medical services outside city limits beginning in January 2022.

The City of Lufkin Fire Department currently services all EMS calls in Angelina County. It takes paramedics 30 minutes to reach Zavalla from the closest fire station in Lufkin. In a cardiac arrest, 30 minutes is six times the required response window of five minutes for resuscitation, according to Lufkin Fire Chief Jesse Moody.

“In my 27-year career, I’ve never seen a cardiac arrest successfully resuscitated in Zavalla or anywhere south of Huntington,” Moody said. “Those calls are survivable if Angelina County had an ambulance service with stations strategically placed throughout the county.”

Longer response times and a financial deficit for EMS services are the primary reasons for the city’s recommendation, Lufkin City Manager Bruce Green said. “Growing deficits are a reality, but they are not our first concern,” Green said. “Our paramedics and emergency medical technicians provide excellent care once they arrive on a scene, but, due solely to the distance, it is not infrequent that one of our ambulances arrives on a scene where a patient should already have been at a hospital.”

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