EMS medics stationed at Austin airport for quicker response times

Austin-Travis County EMS will have medics stationed inside Austin-Bergstrom International Airport as part of a pilot program aiming to reduce response times.

Now, medics will no longer have to drive and park at the airport to get to the Barbara Jordan terminal. They can reach travelers needing assistance much faster with medics onsite.

The Austin Fire Department has a similar program with an AUS-specific fire station on the airport airfield.

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Austin-Travis County EMS medics stationed at the Austin airport to reduce response times. (Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)

ATCEMS has seen a steady increase in call volume to AUS since 2014, averaging about 12% per year. Officials say that increase has sometimes left ATCEMS unavailable to respond to other emergencies, requiring them to use EMS resources that are farther away.

A City review of ATCEMS incidents at AUS revealed that patients are treated on-site and released approximately 65% of the time.

"When we looked at different options for supporting our increasing call volume at the airport, what we found was that the majority of these patients are not being transported to the hospital, which means we do not necessarily need to have an ambulance respond," said ATCEMS Chief Robert Luckritz. "We looked at some creative solutions with our partners at AUS and came up with the idea to house paramedics inside the airport, which will not only dramatically decrease our response time but also lessen the impact these incidents have on our overall system."

For now, ATCEMS medics will be housed in temporary crew quarters, as AUS finishes construction on their permanent home. Once complete, the crew quarters will be located on the secure side of the terminal near gate 20.

Both AUS and ATCEMS have worked diligently to get the program up and running just in time for Spring Festival Season in Austin, which historically has seen a dramatic increase in travelers moving through the airport and thus, an increase in EMS calls. 

Jacqueline Yaft, Chief Executive Officer of AUS said, "We had our busiest year on record last year, which meant more passengers in the terminal and cars on our roadways during busy travel times. Programs like these are important to uncover opportunities to further strengthen the services we offer to the tens of thousands of people flying in and out of AUS each day."

The program was spearheaded by Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, whose district covers the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It was included in the FY2023 budget as a pilot program, and co-sponsored by then Mayor Pro Tem Alter, and Council Members Tovo, Pool and Ellis.