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Donation for 'Ginny' completes ambulance purchase

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Pictured: In honor of longtime EMS volunteer, Virginia "Ginny" Brient, center, an anonymous donor offered $7,500 toward the purchase and equipping of a new ambulance. EMS Director Cindy Martin and Bandera County Judge Richard Evans, surprised Brient with the honor on Thursday, April 11.

Because of the esteem in which a longtime EMS paramedic and supporter is held, a missing piece of a funding puzzle has been found.

Through the auspices of the Texas Hill County Community Foundation, an anonymous donor contributed $7,500 to honor Virginia "Ginny" Brient, former Bandera County EMS volunteer, instructor and director.

The donor wanted the funds to be used toward purchasing and equipping a new ambulance. EMS Director Cindy Martin was happy to acquiesce to those terms. On Thursday, April 11, she told Bandera County Commissioners the funds will make up an existing deficit for a new ambulance.

In January, while transporting a patient to Kerrville, Medic 1 was involved in a three-vehicle collision on Highway 173, north of Camp Verde. One person was killed and the two local EMS personnel on board the emergency vehicle were injured.

Funding for a new ambulance was cobbled together using a grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services totaling nearly $140,000, and a $72,394 insurance payout. However, on March 14, Martin told commissioners her department was still $6,500 short. The generous donation in Brient's name made up for that shortfall.

A letter, dated March 22, from Amy Rector, business manager of the Texas Hill Country Community Foundation, noted the $7,500 grant was made "to recognize (Brient's) many years of service and dedication as volunteer, teacher and director of Bandera County EMS." It also stipulated that the name of the donor was not to be released - which Martin didn't.

Brient began working regularly as an EMS medical provider in the early 1970s after she and her husband, William, moved to Bandera from San Antonio.

"Ginny was a wonderful teacher of medics," Martin said. "She instructed me and later became our first paramedic."

According to Judge Richard Evans, himself an EMS volunteer at that time, Brient was a good "but unforgiving" instructor. He recalled taking a basic EMS course with her in Boerne - three hours a night, three nights a week.

"Ginny came from San Antonio and I came from Bandera. After working all day, it was pretty grueling." At that time, Brient was working as a lab technician.

"When I started with the Bandera EMS, we had one ambulance," Brient remembered. "When calls came from the west end of the county, it took us so long to get there. It was a wonder we saved anyone."

At that time, EMS was staffed with volunteers. No one was paid. "We did get $12 per call - and that was shared among two or three people," Evans recalled. "You did it because it was necessary, certainly not for the money."

For her part, Brient seemed overwhelmed by the unexpected gift in her honor - and apparently had no idea who the benefactor might be.

When apprised of the donation, Brient said, "I can't think who would do something like this except maybe the parents of the baby I delivered."

"There's lots of people who are grateful for what you did for them," Martin countered.