Northwest EMS and the Harris County Emergency Service District (ESD) #8 have agreed to set aside their recent differences for a period of six months, as the ESD extended the company's contract until June of 2014.
During a special meeting of the ESD board July 29, the ESD board voted unanimously to defer for six months a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from other agencies and to extend the agencies contract. The current contract was set to expire on New Years Eve of this year.
"Northwest EMS has assured the board of ESD #8 that they are a financially and operationally viable EMS service, as they have always been in the past," said ESD Board President Lori Wallace. "We have extended their contract for an additional six months to allow them the opportunity for their new strategies to show results. Our primary concern is that we contract with the best EMS service available to provide gold standard service to the Tomball community. We look forward to jointly working together with Northwest EMS toward better communication and a strengthening of our shared goals toward that end."
The two entities have shown tension over the past several months, immediately following the Northwest EMS board's decision to fire longtime chief Brian Petrilla.
Members of the ESD board said they were kept in the dark for several weeks following that decision and decided to see what other options were available to them. The ESD board then put out the RFQ, which means they were seeking proposals from other emergency medical agencies.
Northwest EMS officials, including their attorney Katrina Grider, then accused the ESD board of meddling in the affairs of the company.
Mayor Gretchen Fagan said she saw this happening and looked for a way to bring the two entities back together.
"I applaud both boards for coming together for the good of the community," Fagan said. "This was a very positive move and it shows confidence in the employees of Northwest EMS."
Northwest EMS Board President Rick Brown said he is glad the issue is behind them for the time being.
"The Northwest EMS board is pleased with the actions of the ESD #8 board to defer the RFQ and extend the contract with us," he said. "The paramedics and workers of Northwest EMS love Tomball and have provided excellent, high-quality service for a long time. We look forward to working together in a cooperative way as we move forward."