By Laura French
PHARR, Texas – A bankruptcy judge on Monday approved a Texas city’s purchase of one of the state’s largest ambulance services for $ 1 million.
Through its purchase of the former Hidalgo County EMS, the City of Pharr will acquire assets including 98 ambulances, air ambulance services, all EMS equipment and the company’s existing contracts, according to a press release from the city.
The city plans to use the purchased assets to launch its own Pharr Emergency Medical Services Department, which will be the sole primary provider of emergency ambulance services in the city. The new service will also provide services under existing Hidalgo EMS contracts with Penitas Town, Sullivan City, Hidalgo County 3 District, Hidalgo County Emergency Services District No. 2 and as a substitute for the town of Mission.
“The town of Pharr was aware of the large service area served by the Hidalgo County EMS system, and Pharr was in a favorable position to be able to intervene and avoid the disruption of essential emergency medical services in these communities,” Ed Wylie, director of the city of Pharr said in a statement.
The Hidalgo County EMS purchase was made with COVID-19 funding allocated to the city to support public health services during the pandemic. The former private ambulance service filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019 and found itself embroiled in legal issues, including allegations it fraudulently received a $ 2.6 million loan under of the payment protection program last year. Former CEO and owner of the service Kenneth B. Ponce pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud in March.
The city of Pharr is now awaiting a final review by a judge for the assets of the service to be officially transferred to the city. Pharr’s Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Danny Ramirez has been appointed Head of Pharr EMS and the city will host a career fair on Friday April 23 for EMS service providers interested in joining the new agency.
“We are here to serve our community, and we will always be at the forefront of the latest research and programs to ensure that the employees in our EMS department are highly skilled, trained, skilled and able to provide these emergency medical services at the most. high level is what our community deserves, ”City Commissioner Dr Ramiro Caballero said in a statement.