EMS needs EMS

Bill Clough photo Black mold clings to the wall behind a baseboard in the EMS dormitory.

GOLIAD – The building used to house the EMS and its ambulances is so contaminated with mold that EMS workers are being forced to move  to temporary housing.

Goliad County Judge Mike Bennett, no stranger to construction work, told commissioners Thursday the building would have to be stripped to its skeleton to eradicate the mold.

“You are going to have to gut the building,” he said.

The revelation follows an inspection of the building in mid-August by Mold Specialists of South Texas.

In its 28 pages of findings, the company reports the air-sampling results from the building’s annex are unacceptable.

In addition, the inspection revealed that ceiling and wall textures, ceiling tiles, joint tape and mud, linoleum, vinyl flooring, roof shingles and felt  may contain asbestos.

Mold Specialists recommend that before work is started on cleaning up the building, that it be inspected by qualified professionals.

Bennett said the EMS operation would have to be moved to a separate location “because in addition to the building’s having to be stripped down to its skeleton, you will have folks walking around in hazmat (hazardous material) suits. There’s some things going to be going on that I’m not sure you want to be exposed to. You’ve already been exposed it, probably too long.”

Only after the building is inspected by hazmat professionals, can the court learn of the cost and the timetable.

The report comes in the middle of the county’s wrestling with its annual budget.

Bennett said the expenses necessary to repair the facility would hamper his efforts to produce a balanced budget “but, we don’t have a choice. This has to be done.”

He expressed his frustration by saying that apparently the mold problem in the EMS facility had been known for more than eight years but “this is the first time I’ve heard about it.”

The court approved relocating the EMS operation to a temporary house trailer to be placed at the Precinct 1 headquarters west of the Goliad County Sheriff’s Office.

The headquarters also has covered parking for the three EMS ambulances.

A temporary sewer line, electric power, a water line and a telephone line must be extended to the trailer before EMS personnel can utilize it as a temporary headquarters.

The complexity of eradicating mold in the building is gleaned from the recommended steps necessary to rid the building’s wood of mold:

1. Vacuum the wood

2. Apply a cleaning agent with a wire brush.

3. Allow wood to dry.

4. Vacuum the wood again

5. Re-apply the cleaning agent

6. Allow wood to dry.

7. Vacuum the wood.

Similar steps are involved to cleanse the air conditioners.

As a first step, the court approved the purchase of a mobile home – which would be re-sold after the EMS facility is rebuilt – and calling for bids for the mold eradication.

Bennett, with his eye on the next budget, also told EMS Director Jose Alcazar he expected his employees to repaint an EMS storage building on the EMS property.

“That’s a $6,000 building and the wood on the side is literally rotting because of the lack of paint.

“What are we talking about here? A bucket of pain, a roller and a brush. That’s about $100. That’s pretty easy math. I would appreciate it if you would put some paint on it,” he said. “I know you have some spare time. Let’s preserve what we have rather than buying something new.”

Bill Clough is the Goliad editor at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-645-2330, or at goliad@mySouTex.com.