VIDEOSee emergency workers facing new challenges

Rising Costs and Accidents Squeeze Emergency Workers

The recent surge in Texas energy production has brought a new set of hazards to communities facing the bulk of the drilling — including an increase in traffic accidents and chemical spills. That means more work for already understaffed emergency response units across small-town Texas.

In the West Texas city of Midland, which has seen its fair share of booms and busts over the years, firefighters face an additional set of off-the-clock challenges. Due to rising housing prices, those at the bottom of the department’s pay scale say they’ve been forced to work part-time jobs or room together just to make rent. That’s made it difficult for the department to attract and keep first responders.

Midland County

Midland County by the Numbers

2000 2010 2013
Population 116,009 136,872 151,468
2010 2013 % Change
Traffic accidents 3,099 4,205 36% vs. 13% statewide
Traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles 190 372 96% vs. 18% statewide
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Texas Department of Transportation