The Western Voluntary Ambulance Association is funding a much-needed new ambulance

WEST, Texas (KWTX) – The West Volunteer Ambulance Association, one of nine volunteer ambulance services in Texas, is fundraising Sunday for a new ambulance that will serve and save lives in and around West.

Volunteers respond to emergency calls 24-7 in West and towns up to 20 miles around West.

“I worked last night from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.,” said Garrett Uptmore, an EMT volunteer in West. “You don’t know where to call from. You might get one, two in the morning, four in the morning, you never know.”

Uptmore volunteers while working full-time. He is one of the few West EMS volunteers, but about a decade ago, he was one of more than 60 volunteers.

“After the explosion in 2013, we had a reduced number of volunteers,” Marek said. “We had 64 volunteers. We reached 22 people. Of those 20, 13 are active, so most of them are in the ambulance most of the time.”

This group of volunteers responds to more than 90 calls a month, transporting patients about 20 miles south to Waco or north to Hillsborough, where the nearest hospitals are located.

“We’re putting a lot of miles on the ambulances, and with our three ambulances, we’re going to have to replace our old one within the next year, or we’re going to close. They’re out,” Marek said.

Although they are few volunteers, they are still working to improve their equipment and response time by working to get a new ambulance. They are asking the community to participate in a fundraiser to help them fund the new addition.

“So the main reason for this benefit again is that we were able to buy an ambulance here very quickly,” Uptmore said. “At least this way, this profit can help us put a big part in the new ambulance.”

A new ambulance costs more than $300,000.

The fundraiser will be held Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in the West. Uptmore said that there will be a barbecue, auction, raffles and a live band. All proceeds will go towards funding a new ambulance.

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