Bandera County commissioners approved a $1.2 million purchase agreement on Thursday, Aug. 27, for the 8,250-square-foot, centralized Emergency Medical Services headquarters that has been under construction on Highway 16 South for the last year and should start moving equipment to the facility shortly.
Both Emergency Medical Services Director Calvin Plummer and Bandera County Judge Richard Evans were pleased to see the project come to a conclusion, saying the more centralized and vastly expanded headquarters should protect the department’s ambulances and other assets better, save the county money and cut down on response times on some of the calls EMS receives.
“We’ve needed it for years,” said Plummer after the vote was taken. “We now have a home for everybody.”
“It’s going to be a great thing,” said the county judge, who was impressed with how the facility looked when he and Commissioners’ Court toured the station after Thursday’s vote.
“They did a good job,” he said of LaBarton Properties LLC, which had owned the property where the station is located and acted as the contractor on the project.
The new station allows the county to combine the two stations it currently operates around the clock into one station and still provide more room for dorms, storage and things like training than it currently has, officials said.
The third EMS site that is operated in Lakehills during the peak, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours daily still will be in operation, and its crew will be able to use the new station when needed as well.
Plummer could not state definitively that the consolidated site about midway between the existing stations in downtown Bandera and in Pipe Creek would reduce response times to all calls but said it should on many calls, particularly when multiple calls come in at one time.
Three ambulances will be available at the new station at all times and a fourth one will be on site when the Lakehills station is not in operation, so they will be more readily available when multiple calls come in.
The new station, at 4275 Highway 16 South, is more than twice as large than the Bandera station and Pipe Creek station combined and will offer crews better amenities, Plummer said. It is big enough to house all the department’s equipment, including its two, newest ambulances which are too big to fit in the headquarters station in Bandera currently.
It also can sleep five crew members around the clock and has room for more staff.
With one EMS station in full-time operation rather than two, the county should reduce what it pays to keep the two stations going and will avoid the cost and time involved in transferring crews and equipment between stations, Evans said.
The new station also will offer the department a training room, something it has had to make space for before. Plummer said that room can be used as a shelter for people forced out of their homes by emergency conditions if needed.
The centralized station also will be equipped with an emergency generator that will allow it to stay in full operation when the power is down.
The station was paid for with money from fund balances that the county has built up over the years and required no loan. Commissioners also approved a water sale and purchase contract as part of the deal.
Evans said a few minor issues like painting and water levels in a retention pond still need to be addressed, but he does not expect them to take long to complete. The judge has been authorized to execute the contract once those items are completed.
Plummer said communication issues at the new station might keep the EMS administrative staff from relocating immediately, but he hopes to start moving new equipment into the structure along with the crews fairly quickly.