Over 75 Gordon citizens, concerned about the possibility of losing their ambulance service, showed up at a meeting with commissioners at the Gordon Fire Hall Tuesday night. Judge Mike Smiddy and Commissioner Mike Pierce met with the citizens to answer any questions they had and to attempt to dispel rumors going around.
For the past two years the county had budgeted $15,000 for each ambulance service. Two years ago this had increased the former amount of $10,000 due to illegal eight-liner machines seized by the county and sold. This year with budgets tight, they have proposed to drop that amount back to $10,000. Another cut would be in the insurance they were covering. They would now only carry liability on vehicles that were over five years old, which would include Tri-City’s ambulance housed in Gordon.
Several citizen’s complained that the $60,000 they had budgeted for the 6 rural ambulance services in the county was the same amount they had budgeted for the Mineral Wells Animal Shelter. Judge Smiddy responded that this was comparing apples to oranges and that they were two totally different things.
Palo Pinto County is one of the few counties that have volunteer ambulance services. Tri-City Emergency Medical Services covers the Gordon, Strawn and Mingus area. Gordon has 12 certified volunteer EMTs of which only a few are active. Although the citizens’ main concern was with the cut in the budget by the commissioners, a larger concern expressed by those running these calls, is the lack of volunteers they have. Most of the volunteers are in their 60’s and up and have served many years. New people volunteering to go through the training and having the time to devote to being on call all hours, are becoming fewer and fewer. The demands on the few that are dedicated to serve could be lessened if more people would volunteer to help. Without the man power needed, Gordon could be facing a time in the not too distance future when they no longer have ambulance service whether they can afford it or not.
A second public hearing of the proposed budget is set for August 30, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. This would be the opportunity for any citizen who has something to say about the budget to attend.