Ellis County commissioners met with members of the Ellis Dallas Unified Cooperative Team at a special workshop session Tuesday evening.

EDUCT president and Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson gave a presentation before the commissioners.

“About 2004 we all came together and realized that there were huge gaps in the emergency services that we provided to our citizens. We realized that each of us was good in providing the bread and butter stuff but nothing large scale,” Thompson said.

“So we formed this group and each member has a specialty. This is so we can take care of our neighbor in a timely manner and not have to wait.”

The group’s membership includes Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Ferris, Duncanville, Glenn Heights, Lancaster, Ovilla, Red Oak, Southwest Regional Communications Center and Waxahachie.

The commissioners joined the EDUCT members outside, where they could see first hand some of the equipment that is shared between the different departments.

On display was the Ovilla Fire Department’s rehab truck, which is an apparatus designed to get a firefighter back into action. The truck’s central feature is a large air compressor that is used to refill air packs. On the top are two large work lights that unfold to provide light for a night call. Another feature of the vehicle is the refreshment it provides to firefighters. It is stocked with snacks that give crews needed nutrients, such as water and sport drinks that replenish the body by providing electrolytes.

“One of the biggest problems that we have is rehab at a scene because we have to make sure we are taking care of the firefighters. This truck is the most responded one in the EDUCT system and, when I left this evening, this truck has run on 56 calls so far this year alone. One hundred percent of its goal is to take care of the firefighters,” Ovilla Fire Chief Donnie Pickard said.

“When it runs out of the station it has 100 bottles of Gatorade and 100 bottles of water on it. It carries benches for the guys to sit on, has tables for the firefighters to place their gear on and we don’t stock junk food on it – just things that will give them a quick boost of energy,” he said.

The truck is equipped with misting fans and a large tent that can be set up in four minutes time and be fully air-conditioned. Although the truck has a number of different features, it is designed for operation by a single person.

Red Oak brought its heavy rescue truck to show the commissioners what it can do when put into action at a scene.

“With this truck, we have the tools to do trench, high angle and below grade rescues,” he said. “It can also do vehicle extrications. What you also see are struts that can shore up trenches and buildings, any kind of shoring you can think of. These tools are all pneumatic.

“Anything that we need to build we have right here,” he said. “We have saws, hammers and drills because trench rescue has a lot of building that takes place. Also we have a plasma cutter on board, saws that cut steel and wood and all sorts of ropes. This truck, if you would buy it today, would cost around $700,000 to build and equip.”

James Judd with the DeSoto Fire Department showed commissioners around the mobile communications center, which was purchased under a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and has features that allow first responders to communicate with each other by synchronizing their radios. It is equipped with a satellite dish and a smart board that allow firefighters or police to diagram a building before entering.

EDUCT members’ goal with the presentation was for the county to consider joining in the future so that better service can be given to residents. It would also help the group apply for larger grants to help defray operating costs. 

No action was taken as the item was listed for discussion only.

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com