Acting EMS chief optimistic about department’s future
Friday February 11th, 2022 by Amy Smith
With 124 vacancies to fill the medical corps, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services is using a variety of methods to try to fill the gaps, Acting Chief Jasper Brown told the County Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. municipal Council.
Brown presented an update on the staffing levels and duties of each rank, which served as both a refresher for Council members and an introduction for new District 4 Council member Chito Vela. He and board member Paige Ellis are the newest members of the committee, joining Chair Natasha Harper-Madison and Vice Chair Mackenzie Kelly.
Brown noted that the upcoming committee briefing may paint a different picture as the Austin EMS Association continues to negotiate a new contract, with discussions centering on staffing levels, promotions, reducing or eliminating overtime. mandatory and a more competitive pay scale. City negotiators have already rejected the union’s initial wage proposal, but both sides are working at a mutually acceptable wage level.
Although Brown’s view of the negotiations is from a management perspective, he says he is optimistic about the outcome of the negotiations. “I think there’s going to be some good things coming out of it,” he said, referring in this case to the barriers to successfully recruiting doctors outside of Austin. Barriers range from salary scales to requirements for attaining a rank within the ministry.
The acting chief also pointed out that newly hired EMS chief Robert Luckritz will make the decisions once he takes the reins in March. Brown, who has served as interim chief since June 2021, will play a key role in the transition.
Committee members and a few others present (Mayor Steve Adler, Pro Tem Mayor Alison Alter and Council Member Ann Kitchen) thanked Brown for his service and for guiding the department through the worst times of Covid-19. and winter storm Uri.
Until the new leader arrives, Brown will continue programs that were recently implemented, such as the pilot program launched in January to “encourage volunteerism” by doubling the pay of those who agree to work overtime, reducing thus unpopular mandatory overtime. policy now in place.
“We will evaluate (the pilot) as we go to see if he stays or continues,” Brown said. “We try to incentivize those who really want to work and not those who are scheduled or who don’t want to work (overtime). So far it’s been very positive. »
Brown also updated the committee on steps being taken to transition the department to a community-based public health model by working more closely with Austin Public Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer.
Photo made available via a Creative Commons License.
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