About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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City, County EMS officials put their differences behind them
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 by Michael Kanin
Officials on both jurisdictional sides of the recent Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services kerfuffle report that their working relationship has taken a turn for the better. Travis County Emergency Services Executive Manager Danny Hobby told In Fact Daily that county and city representatives have had “good communication” over the past three months as they continue to navigate their relationship.
Hobby, reached by telephone while on vacation out of state, confirms a statement from Austin EMS Chief of Staff James Shamard, who told members of the city’s Public Safety Commission last week that Hobby and his team were no longer discussing alternative arrangements for the relationship. “I feel that that is over and done with,” offered Shamard.
Shamard’s remarks came in response to a question from Public Safety Commissioner Ramey Ko, who wondered whether the relationship had improved.
Ko’s question echoes concerns repeatedly expressed by Public Safety Commissioner Mike Levy. In January, Levy declared that
Levy did not attend the last week’s meeting.
Meanwhile, Shamard offered Public Safety Commissioners a look at the proposed FY2014
Shamard further explained that the new zone coverage agreement between the county and city bring the jurisdictions’ respective program costs in line. “I think I can safely say…that each of the agencies, both the city and the county, are now paying for their parts,” Shamard said.
Shamard added that he expected Hobby to say as much when he comes to address the commission in August.
Hobby told In Fact Daily that, though the zone scheme was still a work in progress – “especially,” Hobby added, “the county units” – the situation was largely “a good thing.”
Ko also worried that unmet departmental needs including continuing education would leave reported service morale issues unaddressed. Shamard noted that new units coming on line would contribute “additional resources so that crews have some down time…so they’re not just (on) back-to-back calls” – a situation he argued that, coupled with better equipment and renewed wellness focus, would help improve morale.
Council members will work on the budgets throughout August and are set to approve all city budgets in mid-September.
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