AUSTIN, Texas - Tony Marqaurdt, President of the Austin Travis County EMS Employee Association represents 550 uniformed staff in the Austin area.
Wednesday afternoon he and Braden Frame, a Lake Travis firefighter held a press conference in front of Travis County Commissioners court.
“We’re here today to talk about some of the challenges that we faced this fiscal year with starting the year with fewer resources than we had in the past. To be exact, 2 and a half ambulances than we have in the past,” Marqaurdt said.
Marqaurdt says that's two full time 24-hour units and one was reduced to just 12-hour capacity. He says the cut in funding happened in the most recent EMS interlocal agreement and affected the ambulances that operate out in the county.
“We are down from our previous response capacity to a mere 8 ambulances to cover 1100 square miles within the county,” he said.
With nearly 200 new people moving to the county every day, Frame and Marqaurdt say you can't increase demand and decrease resources and expect to meet response times.
“The reality is we're doing it with fewer resources so of course there's going to be a concern of response times. There’s also a concern of trying to chase response times as our metric into the populated areas like Pflugerville or Lakeway and neglect other areas,” Marqaurdt said.
Frame says when you take ambulances away it causes a ripple effect.
“When the ambulance for Lake Travis was moved out of Bee Cave, we saw delays in Lakeway, in Hudson Bend, in Steiner Ranch,” Frame said.
Marqaurdt and Frame are calling on the county to restore those ambulances, along with about 20 positions which Marqaurdt says comes out to about $2.5 million.
“Now’s the time when the county can respond to this call. Now’s the time for stakeholders to return to the table and bring the funding back,” Frame said.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckardt sent this statement: “In an open and continual data-driven process of balancing among competing needs, the Travis County Commissioners Court makes investment decisions for the benefit of all Travis County residents. Responsibility for the consequences of those investment decisions rests with the Commissioners Court, not its employees. Travis County has been and will continue to be in partnership with all of the emergency fire and medical service providers in Travis County to assure a unified standard of care for every resident, no matter what corner of the county or which city that resident lives in. In FY 2016 we had 12 emergency medical units deployed throughout Travis County, all of which were operated by the City of Austin. In FY 2017 we had 14, three of which were operated by Emergency Services Districts. Now, in FY 2018, we have 14, five of which are operated by Emergency Services Districts. Overall response times in the service area outside the City of Austin have improved in FY 2018. I will continue to work in partnership with all current and potential providers for effective, efficient and fair fire and emergency medical response county-wide.”
We reached out to Emergency Services to see what the judge meant by the different ambulance numbers. They told Fox 7 Austin Marqaurdt wasn’t counting the ESD ambulances which aren’t funded by the County.