“Stand by, 704.”
Radios came to life Thursday morning at the Lifeguard EMS station at 1611 Coggin Ave. in Brownwood.
Lifeguard personnel checked over radios and equipment on four ambulances that sat parked, line abreast, in front of the EMS building.
At 9 a.m. — 9 a.m. and 1 second, to be precise — Lifeguard became the EMS provider for the county, and any calls for EMS would roll over to the Lifeguard dispatch from that moment on.
On the other side of Coggin Avenue, an Allegiance Ambulance could be seen parked outside the Allegiance station as Allegiance finished up its time in Brown County.
The Allegiance contract with the county expired Thursday, and county commissioners earlier awarded the EMS contract to Florida-based Lifeguard.
“I can’t emphasize enough how much Allegiance has helped us throughout the transition,” Josh Spencer, regional director of operations for Lifeguard, said as Lifeguard personnel continued preparing their ambulances.
Lifeguard and Allegiance have worked together to make sure there are no gaps in coverage, Spencer said.
Two of the ambulances will remain at the Brownwood station, one will be stationed in Bangs and another will be stationed in Early, Spencer said. Three backup ambulances also remained in Brownwood. At a later time, an ambulance will be stationed in May.
“We will fine-tune the deployment plan,” Spencer said.
Four Lifeguard employees from other operations will spend three days in Brown County, riding on the ambulances and shadowing the local employees. About 85 percent of the local staff consists of former Allegiance employees, Spencer said.
Chris Furry, formerly of Early-based Heart of Texas EMS, is chief of the Brown County operation.
“It’s a labor of love,” Spencer said. “Seeing the trucks roll out on the first day … it’s neat to see everything come together. We’re excited.”
Spencer gave a quick tour of the EMS building’s interior, which includes a room with two Skype-capable computers. Lifeguard personnel can Skype with Lifeguard’s Florida-based medical director, Dr. Kim Landry.
“We’ve got the radios all working … just waiting for someone to call us for the first call,” Spencer said.