Posted: Jan 25, 2013 6:03 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com
Updated: Jan 25, 2013 6:41 PM
PAWNEE - The Eagle Ford Shale has impacted a lot of areas in South Texas. With more shale traffic also comes more accidents. The little town of Pawnee, Texas is now scrambling to find "volunteer first responders" to help out.
The town has a population of about 300 people and doesn't even take much time to drive through. The fire department is a group of 10 volunteers but with a lot more oil and gas trucks zooming by along Texas Highway 72 they're having a lot more accidents which creates a need for more first responders.
"Normally we respond to fires but with the Eagle Ford Shale we're right in the middle of it," said Volunteer Pawnee Fire Chief Joel Saenz. "The traffic is real heavy and probably 80 percent of our calls now are vehicle accidents."
Saenz says their calls have just about doubled in the past year making it a lot of work for his small staff of volunteers. Just about anyone can be a volunteer at the Pawnee Fire Department. They're finding, however, that the volunteers are getting discouraged because they're spending a lot of time training and little time actually fighting fires.
In fact, the first responders are spending more time helping out at car accidents if anything. Since, when an accident happens, time is of the essence, they sometimes can't afford to wait for other EMS care to arrive.
"It takes a response from Pettus probably 20 minutes and a response from Beeville maybe 30 minutes," Saenz said, "So that's why our department, being that we're so far North of the county, plays a big part in it."
Each first responder has to pass a course through Angel Care Ambulance in Beeville. The training adds up to 96 hours and the co-owner of Angel Care says it's all worth it.
"It gives you a sense of self gratification," said Gabriel Aleman, Co-owner of Angel Care Ambulance. "Knowing that you saved someone's life or knowing that you made a difference in that person's life. There's no price tag to that," he continued.
With a new grant from the state, anyone looking to volunteer as a first responder in Pawnee can get the training they need for free. If you're interested in becoming a volunteer first responder call (361) 358-6472.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
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