Over the years, EMS has been provided to the Bolivar Peninsula in many different ways. For many years, the Galveston County Sheriff Department Dispatch receives a 911 call. They dispatch deputies, local first responders (Fire Departments), and then notify any of the three previously ambulance services, High Island EMS, Crystal Beach EMS or Port Bolivar EMS who sends an ambulance. The intent of this system was to provide early and efficient care to patients.
Sheriff's deputies function at a basic level of care, providing CPR and early defibrillation. The role of the Fire Department First Responders is to provide more advanced care, auto defibrillation, airway management skills, and oxygen. The EMS service at that time who would respond, arrives and is able to provide a greater level of experience and ALS. The EMS service that responded to the scene would then transport the patient to the hospital.
As the Bolivar Peninsula started to experience rapid growth starting in the late 60's and on through today, and with the growth, so did the request for EMS services. To understand the growth process of the Bolivar Peninsula has experienced with the progression in providing the next stage in EMS care, a review of the EMS history is necessary.
Way back there before there was any idea about a ambulance service on the Bolivar Peninsula, if a emergency did arise, most people would just load the injured or sick person in the back of a car of pickup truck and drive to seek medical help, be it either in Beaumont, Texas or Galveston, Texas.
Then in 1965, High Island - Gilchrist Mercy Corps was formed by a group of volunteers who had a vision of need for an ambulance service. These people where trained with basic first aid and would provide ambulance service to High Island, as well as to the surrounding areas. This consisted of responding with a donated ambulance from the Harris County Emergency Corps in Houston, Texas. This ambulance responded to any and medical calls and providing very basic treatment for injuries and illnesses. This could include CPR, bleeding control, oxygen, and basic airway management techniques.
Shortly thereafter, in the other communities on the Bolivar Peninsula, the benefits of helping the citizens of their communities with ambulance service was recognized and were also started up and formed by a dedicated group of volunteers in each community. By 1968, ambulance service was started in Port Bolivar. Another community, Crystal Beach started there ambulance service in 1974. In 1986, the community of Gilchrist seen the benefits of serving the people of their community, formed an ambulance service also.
Originally, High Island - Gilchrist Mercy Corps was a standalone ambulance service. The ambulances of Gilchrist, Crystal Beach and Port Bolivar were started under the direction of the Volunteer Fire Departments many years after High Island.
In 2009, Gilchrist, Texas was destroyed by Hurricane IKE. The Gilchrist service, both the Volunteer Fire Department and EMS was disbanded shortly thereafter. The other volunteer fire / EMS services continued to respond to calls, till the task of responding to so many calls overwhelmed the volunteer services. The High Island Mercy Corp, Crystal Beach EMS and Port Bolivar EMS handed over the reins to Peninsula EMS on December 31st, 2011.
Ambulance service on the Bolivar Peninsula is nothing new. Each community has proudly given their all to helping each other and to the neighboring communities for many years.
During the original years in the 1970's and 80's, several changes were made to the way the EMS services on the Bolivar Peninsula provided service. The majority of the department members had become EMT-B certified.
By the early -1980s, several members from each of the Bolivar Peninsula EMS Departments became certified by TSDHS as EMT-I's and EMT-P's. However, with the EMS units only certified at the BLS and not certified as an ALS service, many could not use their advanced skills at on the EMS units.
This improvement plan consisted of two steps.
The first step was to increase the level of service provided to our community by certifying with the State as an ALS service.
The second step was to train additional members to an advanced level. Previously the EMS services on the Bolivar Peninsula only supported members financially who were training to the ECA and EMT-B (Basic) level. Members who wished to receive training to the EMT-I (Intermediate) or EMT-P (Paramedic) level did so at their own cost.
The EMS services supported this additional training and approved money to be budgeted for this purpose. As a result of this, people were trained to the EMT-I level. Several people have completed Paramedic training.
In December 2011, High Island Mercy Corp and Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire department donated their ambulances and majority of their equipment to PEMSI so that PEMSI could official start responding to calls. Another ambulance was also donated from North Channel EMS.
The original Board of Directors for PEMSI was formed shortly after Hurricane Ike struck the Texas gulf coast in September 2008. PEMSI officially went into service on December 31st, 2011.
PEMSI has force of TDSHS certified full-time paid Medics which includes a EMS Director, a number of TDSHS certified part-time Medics, and a number of TDSHS certified volunteer EMT's and paramedics. In addition, PEMSI has recently started to pursue an aggressive program to considerably increase the volunteer staff and to update the sophistication of its equipment and technology spread over the future. As off fall 2015, some of these upgrades include two new Frazer ambulances and five Lifepak 15 cardiac monitors and defibrillators.
In 2017 the PEMSI ambulance fleet was equipped with water rescue devices and training was completed before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey.
In addition two "Lucas CPR" devices were approved by Galveston County ESD-2 for purchase which will enhance emergency cardiac care on the Bolivar Peninsula.
The initial goal of PEMSI was and currently is to be a paid/volunteer EMS department.
The mission of PEMSI is to enhance our community by providing services and programs to save lives.