Texas EMS agency says staffing shortage is killing morale

Austin-Travis County EMS Chief Jasper Brown said nearly 13 percent of crew positions are vacant after 52 new positions were created to reduce work hours

By EMS1 Staff

AUSTIN, Texas — Staff members of an EMS agency say morale is low due to staffing shortages in the department.

KXAN reported that Austin-Travis County EMS has 71 open positions, which is 13 percent of the department’s field crew, according to Chief Jasper Brown.

“Numerous paramedics are having to be forced to work overtime, which is taking a huge toll on the city’s budget, but nobody seems to be talking about it,” an anonymous paramedic said in a letter. “It is also bad for morale when you are constantly having to be called in on your days off.”

Chief Brown said the large amount of open positions are due to the recent addition of 52 positions last year.

“Some of those positions were added to us to help our folks reduce from a 48-hour work week to a 42-hour work week,” he said.

Brown added that the positions are hard to fill because the agency’s contract expired last year. He also said that most of the vacancies are upper level.

“We can’t bring in more people until we promote those other folks, so it’s kind of a domino effect to fill all of the vacancies.”

Another issue, according to Brown, is that entry-level standards were raised, and medics are now required to have a year’s experience with another agency, which “narrows the pool.”

The agency plans to hire 28 medics when the academy starts Monday, and Brown said the department will be able to promote staff members this summer.

“We don’t want people working more than they would like to,” Brown said. “But we are a public safety agency and have to staff to that.”

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