The Pryor Times

October 16, 2013

MESTA director looks back to go forward

Staff Writer
Susan Wagoner

PRYOR, OK — Rick Langkamp, director of the Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority, is in his 11th year on the job. Now and again, he feels it may be good to look back to the beginning to better understand the focus of the service.

Rick Langkamp moved to Oklahoma, Wagoner area, after retiring from his career in New Mexico.

“I am a retired firefighter, 20 years as a professional firefighter in Hobbs, N. M.,” Langkamp said.

“After retirement, we moved to Oklahoma to find trees and water,” he said. But after hanging around for several months, Langkamp was ready to return to work on a different career path.

The department in New Mexico was a duel-service agency, providing ambulance and fire services for residents throughout the entire county.

Langkamp held an intermediate license, a rank between paramedic and emergency medical technician.

During his career, he was called upon to supervise and took advantage of additional training courses provided by the National Fire Academy.

“Those courses taught me administration and business,” Langkamp said.

In 2003, he answered an ad for a Director/EMS. He applied and was hired to run MESTA.

Total assets that year were less than $1 million. Today, total assets exceed $3.5 million.

Pleased that the numbers are solid, Langkamp can keep his focus on what’s most important to him.

“Money doesn’t speak to what we are building out there,” he said. “Our number one priority is to be able to provide service to the citizens.”

Part of the answer is to provide a positive and rewarding workplace environment that encourages employment longevity.

“My first fourth of July, we had a fleet of six and we ended up having to borrow units from neighboring communities because so many of ours were broken down,” Langkamp said.

There were humble beginnings, no doubt. Langkamp was on board with MESTA during the difficult transition of 911 addressing.

“Back in those days, we were still in that little building behind the hospital with the dispatch in the corner,” he said. Now, MESTA owns three stations, leases one from Adair and is in discussions about the construction of a fourth.

Though Langkamp feels a centralized dispatch is a worthy goal for the county, he said certain partner agencies should be well-matched.

“If you put 911 in the hands of someone, it ought to be a full-life safety agency,” he said. “It fits well with life safety, because that’s what we’re about.”

Recently, MESTA found itself in a  Catch-22 situation, when recent events had local law enforcement agencies looking for alternatives for dispatch services.

Though equipped for the influx, accomodation would best be planned in a “group rate” scenario. Because it is a lifesaving service, it would be important for the addition of calls to be handled immediately. That means hiring, additional training for Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications Sytems to make dispatch possible for some agencies.

“I could have placed them all on board if they could all have come on board together,” Langkamp said.

The Town of Adair trustees want to contract dispatch through MESTA, but have yet to secure a signed contract and remain month-to-month with the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office for those services.

Langkamp hopes there will be discussion on how accomodate each entity fairly.

With recent discussion by Mayes County Commissioners as to the possibility of placing county dispatch under the leadership of the county, Langkamp just wants to show them the numbers.

“Maybe they don’t like the idea of it being run by an ambulance director,” Langkamp said. “It may be. If it is, then they need to know I don’t run the 911 center. I’m administrative support only. However, I do know the numbers.”

Brandon Hawkins, a 15-year MESTA employee is the Operations Manager for the 911 center. He also does the 911 mapping.

Regardless of what the county decides, Langkamp has decided.

“There’s not going to be a fight,” he said. “I’m not going to have a delay when we’re coming to get your loved one because there’s a little arguement going on about who gets to answer the phones.”