A fleet of 18 new ambulances is hitting McLennan County streets to provide emergency medical services for seven local cities.
American Medical Response ambulances clad in red, white and blue rolled out about 9 p.m. Tuesday to serve Bellmead, Beverly Hills, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Robinson, Waco and Woodway. AMR is taking over from East Texas Medical Center as the area’s medical transportation provider, with an official transition time of midnight Wednesday.
“We have 18 brand new ambulances, two supervisor vehicles and we are expecting a 19th ambulance coming in later this year and a third supervisor vehicle,” AMR regional director Robert Saunders said. “They start at midnight going into August 1st, and we will be out a couple of hours early to make sure that if a call comes in and the transition needs to happen a little early, we can turn off East Texas’ 911 service and turn ours on.”
ETMC started serving the group of seven cities Aug. 1, 2003, and had its initial five-year contract renewed twice. The cities chose AMR, which also serves the Dallas and Austin areas and recently took over ambulance service in Temple, as the new provider in March.
“This is just a little bigger of a scale than East Texas. … They had 14 or 15 ambulances. We will have 19 in the end,” Saunders said. “With as many football standbys as we have on Friday nights, the Baylor (University) events that go on and other events in the area, we will be able to have a truck at everything.”
AMR, with no public subsidy, will charge slightly less than ETMC. The base charge will be between $1,443 and $1,643, with no add-on for mileage. ETMC charged between $1,486 and $1,692, plus $10.08 to $16.64 per mile.
Most of the local ETMC staff will continue serving with AMR, Saunders said. AMR has 75 full-time and 23 part-time employees for the area and plans to hire another 15 to 20, he said. AMR will house its 911 call center in the Waco Police Department headquarters and will be able to work closely with other emergency responders in the event of a large-scale emergency.
“I am really excited for AMR to come in and provide an improved service to the area with new technology and improved service for patients,” Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum said. “It is also going to improve communication with our hospital, and with keeping most of the past employees, it should be a smooth transition with people who are familiar with the area.”