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First responders shorten response times in rural Jim Wells County

HALO-Flight said it responds to an average of three calls for emergency flights a day.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Over the last decade, Jim Wells County has seen an increase in the need for emergency services. 

Crashes such as Wednesday's on State Hwy. 44 near Alice are part of the reason non-profit HALO-Flight set up a base in Alice more than 10 years ago.

HALO-Flight interim CEO and chief flight nurse Randal Endsley told 3NEWS the group responds to an average of three calls for emergency flights a day. 

"The farther away the incident is, the more valuable the helicopter becomes," he said. "Back before 2012, what you would see is the helicopter starting in Corpus Christi, being called out to the Jim Wells area, having to make that trek out there, pick up that patient and then bring them back to the Corpus Christi area."

Endsley said basing helicopters in places such as Alice and Beeville — which only have Level IV trauma units — can cut down transport time to a Level II trauma center in Corpus Christi by half or more. It takes 18 minutes from Alice to Corpus Christi, and 25 minutes from Beeville to Corpus Christi, compared to a driving at least 45-60 minutes.

"If you think about it, HALO's never going to land at Weber and SPID here in Corpus," he said. "It just doesn't make sense. It's much quicker to go by ground ambulance, and so we put our helicopters out in the communities where they're most needed."

Jim Wells County first responders responded to Wednesday's accident, in which 35-year-old Cindy Moreno and her children Avery and Aiden were killed.

Alice City Manager Michael Esparza said its emergency services are equipped to help throughout the county.

"Our fire department does a whole lot, you know," Esparza said. "It's not just fighting fires, it's every accident that's out there, every phone call, they're out there with EMS."

Esparza said the city's three fire stations, spread out around the city, help them respond anywhere in Jim Wells County, and Alice contracts out its EMS services, which are also housed in their fire stations.

"We're also the primary, the primary fire response team for outside-the-city-limits, in-the-county, for the areas that don't have a volunteer fire department or a paid fire department," Esparza said. "So, we go pretty far out in Jim Wells County."

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