The Somervell County Fire Department does a big-time job in a small county.
That fact received a well-earned statewide spotlight on Nov. 22 when the SCFD was named as the Texas Emergency Medical Services Provider of the Year at the annual Texas EMS Conference in Dallas.
The designation put the SCFD in an elite club, of sorts. Only one such award is presented each year, from among the 795 licensed EMS organizations statewide. There are no separate awards for small towns and large cities – only one division.
The Texas EMS Awards are sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Awards were also presented in several other categories, including First Responder of the Year, Outstanding EMS Person of the Year and the Citizen Award.
Former SCFD firefighter Taylor Sexton, now an epidemiologist in the Dallas area, nominated the winners with a letter.
The letter stated, in part:
“In Texas, many EMS organizations serve rural populations and with that face barriers that large departments do not encounter. Somervell County Fire Department continues to overcome these challenges while providing superior care to the county.
“Despite a population of less than 8,500, this service has three fully equipped ambulances. There is always one crew of EMS providers (often two paramedics/firefighters) always on duty.”
Sexton got his start in EMS involvement when he became a volunteer at the SCFD while still just a teenager at Glen Rose High School. He is now a reserve member.
SCFD Fire Chief Mark Crawford stated in an email that the award came as a “great surprise” because of the fact it’s usually given to the larger EMS systems in big cities.
“I accepted this award not only for our department but for all the small departments out there that have to work with limited resources,” Crawford said, “We often have to double stack our patients in one ambulance, drive over an hour to a Level II trauma center, or utilize an air ambulance for major calls.
“Our members work very hard and sincerely care for our patients because they live here. They don't work or volunteer here for the money; they do it because this is their hometown and they care.
“I love watching our folks take care of their patients. They usually will know them personally and it often helps the patient when they know who is taking care of them.”
Sexton added, “Somervell County Fire Department provides a superior EMS service to the county and it is reassuring to receive state-wide recognition for all of their hard work and the overwhelming support from the community.”
Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers and Emergency Management Coordinator Dwayne Griffin were on hand at the ceremony in Dallas when Crawford accepted the award.
“We appreciate the support we get from those guys and our commissioner's court,” Crawford noted. “We have a great relationship with our hospital and medical director Dr. (Steven) Vacek. They enable us to do the job we do.”
Sexton’s nomination letter also stated, “Superior leadership and expertise is often difficult to find in organizations that serve such small populations. However, the SCFD chief (Crawford) is a certified Paramedic who is also an IAFF master firefighter and master peace officer.”