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Texas ‘Lake Med’ program puts medics on police boats

Austin-Travis County EMS started a pilot program on three lakes to decrease response times to boating accidents



By Bill Carey
EMS1 Staff

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin-Travis County EMS and the Austin Police Department are teaming up to place paramedics on police boats to improve emergency response to boating accidents on three lakes.

The pilot program, called “Lake Med,” will have paramedics and their gear riding with the police on Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake and Decker Lake, KVUE reported.

“With the increased population growth here in Travis County and the increased boat traffic and people on the water, we’re definitely seeing a rise in incidents on the water. So, we felt that it was a good time to make our presence and be there for the public,” Walter Finch, captain of Austin-Travis County Special Operations Lake Med, said.

Texas Parks and Wildlife reported 20% more boating accidents last year than before the pandemic. In 2022, drownings made up 50% of deaths on the water in Texas and were the leading cause of deaths in boating fatalities.

“Our access time is a lot quicker than if we were on land trying to figure out where they’re at and the best access point to get there on the boats. We have significantly better access,” Finch said.