About Us

Make a Donation
Local • Independent • Essential News

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 Travis County officials were “about to walk away from an interlocal that has existed since 1976 because the (City) Manager and EMS staff don’t understand how to play with their friends in the sandbox.” (See In Fact Daily, Jan. 25.)


Levy did not attend the last week’s meeting.


Meanwhile, Shamard offered Public Safety Commissioners a look at the proposed FY2014 EMS budget. He told the body that the service had over $2 million in unmet needs, including requests for continuing education, an occupational health nurse, and a12-hour demand unit in South Austin,  for the coming fiscal year.


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.


Shamard’s EMS presentation was the third in a series of public safety budget presentations for the city’s Public Safety Commission. Commissioners are expected to recommend specific actions with regard to the budgets at their August meeting.


Council members will work on the budgets throughout August and are set to approve all city budgets in mid-September.

You're a community leader

And we’re honored you look to us for serious, in-depth news. You know a strong community needs local and dedicated watchdog reporting. We’re here for you and that won’t change. Now will you take the powerful next step and support our nonprofit news organization?

Back to Top