Brewster County commissioners, Alpine City Council select El Paso-based Emergent Air as new EMS provider

BREWSTER COUNTY — In separate meetings held Tuesday night, Brewster County Commissioners Court and Alpine City Council voted unanimously to select El Paso-based Emergent Air to serve as North Brewster County’s new emergency services provider.

“All three of the vendor candidates would have been good choices, but the task force felt Emergent Air was the best fit for Alpine/Brewster County,” said EMS task force member and Terlingua Fire and EMS Director Greg Hennington in an email. 

Terlingua Fire and EMS stepped up to help provide 911 services for North Brewster County in December after Michael Scudder, longtime operator of Alpine EMS, passed away unexpectedly. Out of concern for overextending his crew, Hennington capped their assistance with a deadline of April 30. Knowing they were up against a deadline, Judge Eleazar Cano assembled an EMS taskforce to focus on establishing a new EMS provider, with county commissioners and city council also assessing the options. 

County commissioners held a special meeting recently to hear three vendor proposals for EMS Services from Emergent Air, American Medical Response and City Ambulance Services. A previously-discussed option to start a county-run EMS lost steam, with officials citing not enough time to develop the service. In Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting, Cano said the other two vendors were also well qualified, but in the end they had to make a tough decision. 

“It’s like interviewing a person — there’s three or four good candidates, and at the end of the day you can only choose one. That’s just the way the world works,” said Cano. 

It was previously stated that all potential vendors, including Emergent Air, agreed to operate North Brewster County EMS services on pre-existing subsidies previously provided to Scudder by the county and city — $13,397.75 a month from the city and $15,000 a month from the county, adding up to a total of $336,000 a year. The company will likely hold separate contracts from the county and the city. 

Hennington said the city and county will now move into the contract negotiation phase with Emergent Air, with the company taking over full responsibility for North Brewster County EMS services on or before April 30. In the meeting, Judge Cano said the contracts would likely be for one to two years to allow for flexibility in the future. 

Ronny Dodson, Brewster County sheriff, is a member of the EMS task force and said it was a unanimous decision among taskforce members to recommend Emergent Air. He said the company was ultimately a better fit than the larger corporations and that when task force members called references, people had positive reviews of Emergent Air and their services. He said they seemed like down to earth people who would fit in with the community. 

Before the brief meeting concluded, Judge Cano commented that the whole situation was rather unfortunate, with the tragic deaths of Michael Scudder and his brother Mark Scudder, happening in close succession, but that by selecting a private EMS vendor they found a viable solution for the community. 

“Now we’re at a time where we need to go ahead and start looking toward the future. I think we did a really good job going through all the options. Like [Hennington] mentioned, the whole county-run [EMS] — it would have been nice to build our own home from scratch, but how many of us have the money and the time to do that? Realistically, this is what we’re dealing with.”