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County signs cooperation agreement with emergency service districts
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 by Austin Monitor
Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously approved an agreement last week between the county and the 14 Emergency Service Districts, which operate inside of it. Once it is finalized by the districts, the agreement will enable more efficient cooperation between the districts and the county and ultimately should provide increased levels of service to county citizens, according to county officials.
Danny Hobby, Executive Director of Emergency Services for Travis County, told the court that the agreement builds off of a similar “collaborative relationship” agreement signed last October by the ESDs. The districts are separate taxing entities that originally were volunteer fire departments. As the county’s population has grown and the nature of emergency services has expanded, the ESDs spend a significant portion of their resources handling medical first-responders.
The agreement will allow the ESDs to pool resources, such as combining training, and allows for shared grant applications – which Hobby said should increase the odds of landing grant funds. Hobby made it clear that there are no financial commitments required with the agreement, only that it enables more than a single ESD to apply for a grant. The agreement will also ultimately set up a “standardized system of measuring and reporting the effectiveness of related programs” between the districts, while defining common goals and objectives.
Hobby told In Fact Daily that the agreement would also enable the 14 ESDs to collaborate on any shifts in station locations that may be necessary for growth trends. It will also allow for EMS to have a wider range of service, enabling ambulances from any district to service other ESDs in the county. Additionally, the districts will now have collaborative annual planning meetings that will bring their resources, budget planning and strategy more in line with a county-wide effort.
Pct. 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt called the agreement “a big deal. . . We are moving forward on building a county-wide safety net through these relationships between 14 separate ESDs with their separate taxing jurisdictions.”
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