When it was decided in March to begin construction of a new EMS station in Sealy, Austin County commissioners gave the project a 365-day timeline to finish but with crews taking advantage of good weather, the building has remained on track and may be a bit ahead of schedule said Austin County EMS Director Walter Morrow in a June 16 phone interview.
“The original timeline said it had to be done by the end of March of next year, but it's looking like hopefully by the end of this year it may happen, depending on logistics of the contractors,” Morrow said of Christensen Building Group. “The agency that's managing the construction of the building has been wonderful at staying one step ahead of all their needs.”
Christensen Building Group is building the new station on the corner of Atchison Street and Highway 90 which will serve as an expansion of the Austin County EMS crew quarters. The new facility will allow up to three full crews to stay overnight as opposed to one crew being cramped inside the current, outdated facility on Fowlkes Street in Sealy. Morrow said the biggest benefit of the new station is the nod to the future, providing plenty of opportunities for recruiting and training.
“(The new upgrades will) make the agency more desirable for future employees,” Morrow said. “Also, we'll be able to take EMS and paramedic students and have them do longer clinical classes. Currently, we don't let them stay the night because there's no space for that. Sometimes the nights on the weekends are typically busy times for us and there are a lot of learning opportunities for the students, but it doesn't always come into play when we have to push them out the door at 7 p.m.”
Austin County Judge Tim Lapham agreed that the new facilities will provide a positive impact on the EMS workers.
“It’s crucial to us getting good, quality people and keeping those people to have good facilities and good equipment for our staff to work out of so it's vitally important for the service,” Lapham said.
Morrow said the expansion had been needed for some time with Sealy providing around half of the entire county’s emergency calls.
“That’s hard on the crews of running call after call (back and forth), and by being able to expand in the future, hopefully, we can offload some of that workload for them,” Morrow said.
Despite the change in address, Morrow said the service area and operations will remain the same for Austin County EMS.
“Destination-wise, they're all pretty much the same. We're working with (Bellville Medical Center) right now trying to figure out mostly the level of care that they could take in and what is the best for the patients that are calling 911,” Morrow said. “We don't want to take in somebody that we know that they're going to have to pack up and send to Katy right away.”