FREDERICK, Okla. (TNN) - Tillman County EMS and the Frederick Fire Department are teaming up to provide Emergency Medical Services for the surrounding area.
When the Tillman County Hospital closed in 2016 it caused ambulance transport times to jump from 45-minutes to 2-hours since Tillman County EMS is forced to transport patients to Lawton or Altus for care.
Frederick Fire Chief James Heap said if additional calls are received while EMS is out of the area, firefighters would fill the void.
“We decided we needed to get our firefighters trained, and licensed as EMTs. We’ve been working on that for the last couple of years, and now we’ve gotten to the point we feel we can collaborate in the district and provide good efficient health care to the needs and citizens of Fredrick, and Tillman County,” Heap said.
Ralph Washburn is the Tillman County EMS Director.
He said his team’s call volume has increased beyond their current capacity and COVID has added to that problem.
“So we’re running more ambulance calls than we ever had even since our hospital closed. We had an increase and after that COVID has increased that more. It’s getting much more difficult to find an ambulance when someone needs one. We’ve been blessed in our county to maintain two ambulances 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Washburn said.
This new partnership will give them the manpower to run the third ambulance if needed.
Also apart of the new agreement, the fire department has a team who will respond to calls with EMS within the city limits of Fredrick, and a second-team will be dedicated for county calls if needed.
“It’s coming at the perfect time to support each other. We both have blessings coming from this so it’s really going to be a positive thing for everybody involved,” Washburn said.
Heap said the mayor, city council, and the Tillman County EMS board of directors made this all possible.
“They’ve helped in any way they’ve been asked to help us get this going with funding, the opportunity for the training, and equipment,” Heap said.
The Fire Department averages about 280 calls a year now Heap is expecting that to jump to about 700.
The partnership will begin today with a six month trial period, and then they will reevaluate to decide if it will continue.