LCRA awards $14,526 grant to Matagorda Volunteer Fire Department

New utility vehicle will help shorten emergency response time, make access to patients in coastal terrain easier

An LCRA representative presents a $14,526 grant to the Matagorda Volunteer Fire Department for a new utility terrain vehicle. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Rolando Hernandez, VFD vice president and firefighter; Margaret D. “Meg” Voelter, LCRA Board member; Clayton “Clay” Cook, VFD president, firefighter and paramedic; and Teresa Gibbons, assistant to Matagorda County commissioner, Precinct 2.

MATAGORDA, Texas – The Matagorda Volunteer Fire Department soon will add a utility terrain vehicle to its fleet to help first responders reach island and beach areas during emergencies, thanks to a $14,526 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

The LCRA Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with about $8,000 in matching funds from the department, will allow the Matagorda VFD to buy a new utility terrain vehicle to use for rescue, medical and fire emergencies.

Matagorda VFD Fire Chief Gail Cook said the new utility vehicle will help firefighters more quickly access people who need help along the off-road sections of beach and shoreline where emergency medical services vehicles can’t drive.

“Beach and coastal terrain can be difficult to cross with anything other than your feet, and our service area recently doubled to about 230 square miles of mostly rugged, sandy ground,” Cook said. “That includes Matagorda Island and everything from behind the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.”

Cook said most of the department’s calls are for medical assistance, including near-drownings, jellyfish stings and bites, so the utility terrain vehicle will be equipped with space on the back to accommodate a stretcher and room for a medic to ride with the patient.

“This vehicle will be a tremendous help to us as we currently have to put patients on the back of pickups to bring them off the beach because EMS doesn’t have four-wheel drive vehicles – and we have more than 45 miles of beach to cover,” Cook said. “The utility vehicle will carry our medical bags so we can use our paramedic skills to perform life-saving measures until EMS arrives and can transport the patient, making this new vehicle a sort of mini-ambulance.”

Matagorda VFD also purchased a boat that can transport the utility terrain vehicle, extending its reach across the Colorado River and Matagorda Bay to respond to calls for help on Matagorda Island or the riverbank.

“Kayakers and people in fishing boats sometimes capsize and make it to the other side of the water from where we are,” Cook said. “Having this utility vehicle on a boat will help us reach people stranded along the other side of the river or bay.”

As more people visit the area with the summer, the department will be able to respond to the increase in calls more quickly and easily because they will have the equipment they need ready to go, she said.

“Having the right equipment and certifications grow our department to another level of response,” she said. “We have rescued and treated people who may not have made it to the hospital without our ability to quickly administer IVs and cardiac medication, so getting to people faster will mean better care for all our patients.”

The community grant is one of 44 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in July. More information is available at

About LCRA

The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations.

Contact Info

Clara Tuma, Public Information Officer
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After hours: 512-944-6719