Brownsville receives ambulances, other resources to assist with COVID-19

With more than 1,000 reported cases of coronavirus in Brownsville, and the numbers increasing rapidly, the City of Brownsville has requested state resources for assistance.

And that assistance is coming in from Strike Force that will help with 911 calls, ambulances and other measures to respond to emergency calls and assist local hospitals to avoid overcrowding.

Officials said Strike Force is providing the city with more ambulances and other state resources so Brownsville residents can continue to receive the care they need, whether it is urgent or by providing them with answers about the COVID-19 symptoms and tests.

“We have our own personnel responding to the calls first but increasing numbers come with increasing calls and hospital capacity gets challenged, so we requested state resources to assist us with some of these calls to make sure that we do have ambulances available to respond,” Brownsville Fire Chief Jarret Sheldon said.

“We went through the emergency medical taskforce in partnership with Cameron County and all the EMS services in the county … to bring more ambulances to the area, fortunately we were able to get nine to 10 ambulances from around the state in Cameron County and there’s another 10 ambulances in Hidalgo County deployed to this area.”

Sheldon said if someone calls 911 there’s a paramedic who will be answering and screening those calls making sure they have the right care for the right time, answering questions such as “where do I get tested?” “when do I need to go to the hospital?” and “these are my symptoms.”

“In recent times with this pandemic going on, during the [beginning] the cases were low in the area and now with the reopening and the increase of cases in our area, Brownsville is getting very concerned right now,” he said. “Our goal is that if they are not in the critical state or they do not need to get to the hospital, to give them the information they need.”

Sheldon said they also requested an emergency licensing of ambulance services, in case they ever get to the phase where the state can no longer help. He said other jurisdictions throughout Texas are in the same situation as Cameron County.

“The message right now is that these orders are in place because they are meant to protect people and protect everyone’s lives and the safety of their families. It’s really important to stay home whenever possible and if you are out in public, wear your mask; it makes a huge difference,” he said.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez posted on Facebook Thursday morning that over the last couple of days, both local hospitals and several others in the Rio Grande Valley have been on and off of diversion status. He added this is a way to relieve overcrowding in emergency departments by diverting ambulances to other facilities.

“According to overnight numbers, Cameron County had 111 new positives reported. Sixty-seven positives and one death were from Brownsville. As of yesterday (Wednesday), Brownsville had 1,366 total reported cases, and 21 total deaths. On a positive note, 665 of the known positives have recovered,” Mendez wrote. “Please continue to be safe and try to avoid crowded places this Fourth of July! If we all do our best to take precautions, we may be able to level this out a bit over the next week or so.”