Mercedes opts for no-cost ambulance service

MERCEDES — City commissioners decided Tuesday to bring back Med-Care EMS to service the city.

The move comes after the city abruptly cut ties with Star EMS in December. Scripture EMS and Hidalgo County EMS presented proposals at the City Commission meeting held Tuesday, but commissioners opted for Med-Care in a 3-2 vote.

Med-Care began servicing Mercedes Wednesday at no cost to the city.

“Certainly, the city of Mercedes is very happy with that savings,” said interim City Manager Sergio Zavala.

The new contract with Med-Care also includes a clause that allows the city to terminate the agreement at any time, Zavala said.

“The big deal is we’ll be saving $180,000 a year,” said Mayor Henry Hinojosa.

Since December, the city of Weslaco had been responding to emergency calls in Mercedes at a cost of $5,000 per week.

“We are very appreciative of the city of Weslaco’s service in the interim,” Zavala said.

Med-Care will have two medical ICU ambulances with a paramedic and basic ambulance assistant each on board, said Mack Gilbert, director of operations.

Now including Mercedes, Med-Care currently services the cities of McAllen, Mission, San Juan, Alamo, Hidalgo and Hidalgo County Emergency Services District No. 4.

Commissioners also decided to take no-action on naming a consultant to look into the possibility of city-run ambulance service and instead let Zavala move forward with hiring one.

The city entered into an agreement Wednesday with State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, who will serve as the consultant and look into the financial feasibility of city-run emergency medical services in Mercedes, according to Zavala.

“We have absolute confidence in his skills,” Zavala said of Martinez.

Both Hinojosa and Commissioner Ruben “Chano” Guajardo have expressed interest — if the deal is practical — in the possibility of having city-run ambulances.