ESD, EMS boards deserve a community thank you


On March 21, the board of directors of the Gonzales Emergency Services District (ESD) and the Gonzales Emergency Management Services (EMS) met at the EMS training room to discuss a possible merger between the two boards. By the end of the evening, the EMS board unanimously agreed to turn over all assets, property and vehicles to ESD, and the ESD agreed to take on the assets and responsibilities of overseeing EMS. Both boards voted unanimously to approve the merger, and at the end of the evening there was applause and a sense of accomplishment in the room.

The people who made this happen should absolutely feel like they accomplished something. They saved EMS from going bankrupt, turned the finances around in less than two years and have a robust program of improvements and vehicle acquisitions scheduled which will make Gonzales the leader in South Central Texas for equipment, services and emergency medical care.

We applaud the two boards for their heroic effort in overcoming the large obstacles they faced when they were first appointed and the lightning-like fashion in which they resolved the monstrous problem they inherited. They not only fixed the enormous problems facing EMS, they enhanced it like it has never been done before.

It was an historic event for the emergency services community. The department had been under tremendous duress over the years due to mismanagement and alleged corruption. The former EMS director and his wife are waiting to be tried on two separate felony charges. There was a major concern that EMS would have to file for bankruptcy because of how it had been run. A fix was needed immediately, and an overhaul of the entire operating apparatus and board of directors had to be implemented. The new boards quickly went to work, thought outside the box and came up with answers and solutions that shall last long into the future.

The people of Gonzales County will be the beneficiaries. Here’s what they are already putting in place:

  • Four new modern ambulances will arrive in mid-April. They will replace the aging and out-of-date ambulances EMS has been forced to use for years because of financial mismanagement.
  • There will be new equipment for those vehicles and in the office, and all staff will have new and up-to-date uniforms and equipment.
  • Gonzales has reached a new deal with PHI Air Medical to provide free air lift transfers to patients who are critically injured in an accident or suffer a life-threatening illness or event. Air lifts are very, very expensive but now it is free to all Gonzales County residents! This is a major accomplishment by the two boards and EMS Executive Director Eddie Callender.
  • All debt owed to EMS from prior EMS services that were charged to patients that resulted in liens placed on their house or property have been wiped off the books.

This is extraordinary work by these two boards, and we applaud their efforts and think they should take a bow. Their names are Rene de la Garza, Donald Rihn, Linda Carter, Johnnie Hall, Dr. Commie Hisey and Kevin Pirkle. The next time you see these folks give them a thumbs up. They have made it proud once again to be an EMS employee in Gonzales and have upped the bar for high-quality and dependable emergency health care in our county.

We say very well done, ladies and gentlemen.