Austin-Travis County EMS chief to retire after 40 years of service
Chief Ernesto Rodriguez, who has served as ATCEMS chief since 2008, will retire at the end of May
By Laura French
AUSTIN, Texas — Austin-Travis County EMS Chief Ernesto Rodriguez will retire this May after 40 years of service in EMS, officials announced Friday.
Rodriguez first joined Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) in 2006 when he was hired as deputy director after a national search; he was later promoted to chief in 2008. Prior to joining ATCEMS, Rodriguez served in various capacities in the fire service, state government, the private sector and municipal third service EMS models for about 25 years.
During his career, Rodriguez served as a member of the Technical Expert Panel of the EMS Agenda 2020 project and was a founding member of the Texas EMS Alliance (TEMSA). He holds a bachelor's degree in emergency management administration from West Texas A&M University, holds a master's degree in ministry from Liberty University and completed training through the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to become an improvement advisor specializing in EMS.
"His creative spirit and passion for innovation has helped make significant strides towards the ongoing improvement of patient care, system efficiency and employee resilience in Austin," ATCEMS officials said in a statement. "He has been instrumental in convening community stakeholders to address a wide range of issues related to homelessness and is working to help improve social equity and access to quality healthcare services in underserved populations."
Some of Rodriguez's notable accomplishments as chief, according to ATCEMS, include increasing staffing levels from about 250 personnel in 2006 to more than 600 in 2020, adding eight new EMS stations, adding eight 24-hour ambulances, nine 12-hour ambulances and an ambulance bus to the agency's fleet, creating a three-factor employee wellness program and EMS chaplaincy program, creating the agency's community health paramedic program, assisting in the development of the EMS Explorer Post, and more.
Rodriguez has previously been named EMS Manager of the Year by the National EMS Management Association and is the only two-time recipient of the Administrator of the Year recognition from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
"In his retirement Chief Rodriguez plans on enjoying his time with his wife, son and daughter, and their pets to include playing tunes on his guitar and building projects in his wood shop," agency officials said.
ATCEMS Assistant Chief Jasper Brown has been appointed as interim EMS chief as the city begins its search for the next permanent chief. Brown has been with the agency for 23 years and previously served as chief of staff for more than five years.