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Plan to integrate MedStar into Fort Worth Fire Department moves forward

Plan to integrate MedStar into Fort Worth Fire Department moves forward
Plan to integrate MedStar into Fort Worth Fire Department moves forward 02:23

FORT WORTH – MedStar's EMS Service in Fort Worth and its 13 member cities is possibly coming to an end. The city's EMS Ad Hoc Committee made a decision this week to move forward with a plan that would integrate MedStar into the Fort Worth Fire Department.

"We're really excited about it," said Mike Drivdhal with the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association. "To be able to bring the ambulance underneath the Fort Worth Fire Department and have paramedics and EMTs responding on ambulances with our firefighters under the same system is going to be a huge benefit for the city."

Drivdhal said the new proposed plan will decrease response times.

"They're good paramedics and EMT," Drivdhal said. "So we are excited to work with them, to have them as part of our team and, you know, it was just time for a system change."

The EMS plan was one of four options presented by independent consulting firm Fitch & Associates in March. Fitch's study started in November 2023 after MedStar had been facing financial challenges due to low reimbursement from insurance agencies.

The plan would allow MedStar paramedics, dispatchers and employees to become part of the fire department, based on the need for the position. 

MedStar's Matt Zavadsky said the organization is supportive of the city's decision.

"The same faces that you see responding to a 911 EMS call today will likely be responding to that same EMS call 12 or 18 months from now … wearing a different uniform," Zavadsky adds, "There might be it using an ambulance that's a little bit different."

The City of Fort Worth expects the new system to cost about $10 million a year. 

Ad Hoc committee chair, Councilman Carlos Flores, and Assistant City Manager Valerie Washington said the plan will not raise taxes, but the money will come from a tax-based general fund.

"We would work to mitigate impacts to taxpayers and try to find ways to absorb things from within, while also trying to be really aware of other city departments and important programs that work," Washington said.

"Just like any other department, the fire department has its funding, and those revenue streams are established. Similarly, we're going to do that for this service," Flores said.

City leaders agree the transition will take a lot of discussion on logistics.

"There's going to be things that work. There's going to be things that don't work. What I would say is that the good thing is a fire truck and an ambulance are going to show up to every emergency," Drivdhal said.

One more ad hoc EMS committee meeting is set for April 30, with the committee to bring the EMS plan to the full city council for a vote in early May. 

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