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No, But It’s Past Due For Overhaul

A JEMS article on the Austin-Travis County EMS System asks is Austin’s EMS system broken?

Honestly, ATCEMS hasn’t been anywhere near as good as its press clippings for at least ten years. See: laurels, resting on.

The article concludes:

“Using the ICMA six signs as a diagnostic, one could conclude the Austin-Travis County EMS system is in distress. The EMS system’s current performance, structure and funding do make it stable. Stakeholders may not be comfortable with the current outcomes, but the system is not “broken” and could be repaired. Doing so would require laser focus on shared outcomes, heavy emphasis on engagement and communication, and a collaborative action plan to change. The will and resources are present to achieve the aim if there’s community interest and strong leadership to do so.”

If you can wade through the facts, figures and EMS bureaucratese, it would seem that ATCEMS no longer meets most of the benchmarks for quality EMS systems.

People forget, however, that benchmarks are not the sole measure of a system, for the simple reason that just because something can be measured doesn’t mean that it should be measured, or that the measurement is even relevant to the quality of patient care delivered.

And from my sources intimately familiar with that system, it’s in even worse shape than even the benchmarks would indicate.

There is one sure way to break it beyond repair, though:

Merge it with the fire department.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • baxtif

    I worked for ATCEMS for 6 years between 1999 and 2005, and can attest to the fact that things are moving towards the worse for the system here. There seems to be some type of transformation that happens between being a field medic and promoting to commander where one completely loses their memory of what it takes to do the job and what is best for “the company”, with very few exceptions. Hope it changes for my friends that are still there, but I am doubtful it will.

  • Rusty Lee

    The same could be said for the vast majority of EMS systems in this country…….in my humble opinion…….

  • lonemedic

    I am sure a certain employee owned EMS provider would be glad to solve their problems.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      I’m not so sure. Right now they’ve got a big chunk of the revenue and none of the strife and politics.
      I’m sure they’d rather ATCEMS stay viable, while continuing to alienate employees and look down their nose at interfacility transports.
      Kelly Grayson

      • LoneMedic

        That may be true, but during my time there, it seemed there was a goal of taking Texas. I enjoyed the naval division.

  • Cierra W

    I work for AMR Austin and currently am in paramedic school. You know ATCEMS is getting bad when new “green” medics straight out of school are avoiding 20 an hour job with benefits. I currently am at the crossroads of trying to plan where I want to work because where I work now is really in chaos as well but a lot of public services like San Antonio, Corpus and etc. are all fire based and require a fire cert. :-/ Ideas?

    • Ambulance_Driver

      When an agency requires a paramedic cert to be a firefighter, or firefighter cert to work on an ambulance, that’s Clue #1 they’re trying to serve two masters.
      The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none,” comes to mind.

      And in such agencies, when it comes to budget dollars and promotional pathways, the fire side almost always wins, despite the fact that 80% of the work done and revenue generated comes from the EMS side of the house.
      My suggestion is to find a smaller, municipal or county third service somewhere.

      • Cierra W

        Thank you so much! I appreciate the advice.