Pharr enacts ambulance permit requirement

    PHARR — Ambulance companies that want to do business in Pharr must now apply for a permit from the city.

    PHARR — Ambulance companies that want to do business in Pharr must now apply for a permit from the city.

    Pharr commissioners passed the ordinance Monday afternoon. The new rule will require companies to provide a slew of information to the city and undergo an inspection before being given permission to operate within Pharr’s jurisdiction.

    The $500 permit will be placed on the back of ambulances and will be valid for one year. There are some exceptions to the rule. Air ambulance companies will not need a permit and calls for services originating from outside the city will not be penalized with a $1,000 fine.

    The new rule will take effect in 120 days, according to a copy of the ordinance.

    During Monday’s meeting, Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez called Fire Chief Leonardo “Lenny” Perez to the podium in an effort to clarify discrepancies in the city’s contract with its current EMS provider.

    Hernandez asked Perez a series of questions that indicated Hidalgo County EMS has been providing highly specialized vehicles — otherwise known as mobile intensive care units — for patient transports instead of the lesser-equipped vehicles alluded to in the contract between the two entities.

    Kenny Ponce, owner of Hidalgo County EMS, said he had signed an amended contract Monday that reflected the services they are actually providing.

    “Nothing has changed as far as patient care,” he said after the meeting. “We’ve given the highest level of care since day one since we took over. As a matter of fact, we’ve been providing more ambulances than the previous ambulance service.”