Fort Bend County EMS – Part 1; “We’re Not Just Ambulance Drivers”

Chief Graig Temple

Our Fort Bend County EMS was formed in 1972 and is still going strong and growing, There are currently 16 paramedic units, called MICUs (Mobile Intensive Care Unit) and three single paramedics that are in squad which are SUVs located in rural areas. Fort Bend EMS has one in Needville, one in Orchard and one in the Fulshear-Simonton area. There are also three 24-hour supervisors on duty strategically placed on East, one North and one central. With more than 48 years of pre-hospital experience, the Fort Bend Count EMS is committed to serving its patients, its citizens and its staff with Compassion, Empathy, Teamwork, Innovation, Professionalism and Safety.

We sat down with Chief Graig Temple to ask him about EMS and what he would like the community to know about them.

  1. We understand that you have special programs that the greater community may not know about.
  • It is much more than just the ambulances you see going down the road.  I’ll start with the Ambus program. We are a member of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council and we do participate in disaster responses. Obviously with we have flooding, hurricane, and weather-related events We have a specialized vehicle that was paid for through grant funding. You have probably seen a lot of press about it. It is a specialized ambulance built on a tractor trail type of chassis and we can transport over 25 patients at once with a crew of six paramedics that are on that truck. We do to disasters such as a mass casualty incident, for example, a school bus accident, where a lot of people are injured at one. We would deploy that vehicles so we can take care of a lot of people with that apparatus.
  • We also have bike paramedics and if you have ever been to the Fort Bend County Fair you’ve seen us out there. However, we are available for any parade, or bicycle safety lectures or anything like that in the community. It allows our paramedics to not only exercise, but they can get through crowds quickly where the large ambulances can’t make it through. We look for opportunities to come out to your local communities so we can talk to children about helmet safety and the parents understand how important it is for children of all ages to wear helmets.
  • We also have tactical paramedics that are part of the Fort Bend County SWAT team. They are embedded with the SWAT team and go out on high-risk incidents. They are there to take care of the police officers as well as other people that are involved in this situation. So, that takes a specialized group who go through very rigorous training to essentially become SWAT certified to be able to provide that level of care.
  • Additionally, we have toxicology paramedics (we call them tox medics for short), but they carry specific medication. We are in a farming community and if someone gets exposed to organophosphate, which is big in farming, we have special medication to treat those individuals. We also have antidotes for other biochem situations. After 9/11 we received a lot of grant funding for tox medics to make sure we have weapon of mass destruction antidotes, so we have those as well.
  • Lastly, our new team that we are going to be forming, in collaboration with Fort Bend County, is our technical rescue paramedics. They will be working with the Fire Department to take care of individuals that may be involved in some type of technical rescue situation. They will care specialized medical equipment for their medical care and trauma care. It is essential that we been at the point of injury so we can begin treating as soon as possible before we deliver them to a hospital.
  • There are always situations where their immediate thought is call 911. The county is growing, but if you have a cough or stump your toe, should they be calling 911?
  • The way we look at it, if you have called 911 that is your emergency and we are going to treat it like it is your worst day and we are going to everything we can to make it better for you.
  • There are certain situations where it is better to look at your family doctor. Especially if you have chronic type cough for instance, it may not be best to go to an emergency room if it is something that you physician can see you right away and get you in and get you on some treatments.
  • So, yes, we do get all types of calls but typical emergent type of calls are cardiac patients, so any time you have check pain, shortness of breath or unexplained nausea and vomiting, any type of discomfort in your chest that may is radiating to your shoulder or your back absolutely call 911.
  • Also, we are always out in the public trying to educate the public about strokes, so that is another situation where we can intervene with right away so we can get you to the appropriate medical center where you can get back to where you were. In the past, may people believed that because we had a stroke it was terminal, and you would never recover from it. That is not the case anymore. Because we have hospitals such as OakBend, and others that are doing phenomenal care, giving that treatment right away where we can break up those clots, or provide that intervention, that way you can live that very fruitful life. So, it is especially important to call us right away if you have stroke-like symptoms.
  • If we have someone stroke-like symptoms or a heart attack and they live alone, what should they do to help you before you arrive, if it is possible.
  • We have fantastic partnerships with our Fire Department, and they act as first responders for us. They have some specialized tools and they sometimes must force into a house if the door is locked to get us in there to take care of you as our patient. If possible, unlock the door and turn off the alarm.
  • There are a few things you could do to help us help you. Turn on an outside light, make sure the house number is visible, we use spotlights, but it is sometimes difficult to see. If you have someone with you, have then go to street and flag us down to make sure we get to the right house immediately.
  • If you have animals put them in another room. Your fur baby my be loving to you but when a stranger comes in and they are wearing a mask and the animals are unfamiliar with it, we don’t want our paramedics getting bit by an animal so if you could those up for us as well that speeds up the process.
  • Turn off the TV, so we are not trying to compete with your local news program or whatever while we are doing an assessment with that in the background.
  • What about our medications, should be bring those with us or a list of our doctors?
  • Not so much bringing your medications, but if you have a list those would be wonderful. We don’t see enough of that. We also understand that as your health changes and as your medications change, we are not always going to have the most up to date list. But if you have, a word program on your computer at home and you can update it and print out copies, that is extremely helpful and to have your demographics on there. Even if you do live alone another next of kin that we can contact not only about your medications, but also if you have any allergies to medications. We don’t want to give you a medication that can harm you. It would be great if you put together a medical synopsis. Not necessarily of your childhood, but if you have had any surgeries, a heart attack, or a pacemaker, if you have a stroke in the past or if you are a diabetic, If you put those on your list that is extremely helpful and it allows us to move much quicker through the assess to get you the care you need.