Cochran County residents come together in a town hall meeting Wednesday night to discuss the future of EMS service in Cochran County.
Currently Frontier Ambulance Corporation, a non profit entity owns the ambulances. The corporation was formed in 1971 as a volunteer EMS service for Cochran County residents. In 1991, the group contracted with Shaheen EMS Corporation to administer and operate the EMS service in Cochran County. Frontier Ambulance Corporation which is funded by taxing entity’s pays Shaheen Corporation $51,840 per year to operate the service. It was noted that according to the last two financial statements provided by Shaheen Corporation the net income from billing and payment for services was less than $10,000 per year. Shaheen Corporation was owned and operated by the late F E Shaheen. The contract will be honored and they will continue to operate the service according to the current contract “at this time” according to the attorney representing the Shaheen family estate, said John Schmidt, board member for Frontier Ambulance Corporation who has been in contact with the attorney.
It was reported that a committee was formed to explore the possibility of Cochran Memorial Hospital taking over operation of the EMS service. After exploring the possibility, the hospital board said “we will take it over, only if their is no other option.” It was also discussed that Frontier Ambulance Corporation could carry the license and operate the service, however, they would need to hire an administrative staff to handle operations and billing. It was also pointed out that currently 40-60% of the EMS calls in Cochran County are no transport calls, meaning the patient refuses transport to the hospital. The question was asked, if the hospital takes over operation, than will all patients have to go to Cochran County Hospital first before being taken to another more appropriate facility. It was noted by several EMS professionals in attendance, that the law states the patient has the right to make the decision and if the patient cannot or is not able to, they are transported to the nearest “appropriate” facility which is state law.
After almost an hour of discussion, the service will continue as is until more information can be aquired as to costs involved in making a change. They also are going to advertise for another contractor to operate the service. It was noted that the Shaheen Family Estate, according to the contract with Shaheen EMS Corporation, would have to give 90 days written notice before ending the contract. That would give time to apply with the state for licensing. The Texas Department of Health and South Plains EMS will work with Frontier Ambulance Corporation. Everyone agrees the county still needs an EMS service and will work to find the best viable solution.