Abbott administration to host a series of EMS committee meetings open to public this week


Boram Kim


The Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council (GETAC) will hold a series of public-facing committee meetings on emergency and health services in Austin on May 24-25th.


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The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) plans to use the forum to address public comments pertaining to topics related to Emergency Health Care, which suffered service lapses due to surges in COVID patients and an increasing shortage of emergency health workers throughout the outbreak stages during the pandemic. Texas has reported more than 86,000 deaths and 5.6 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. 

Committees on the 2-day agenda will discuss the following:

GETAC outlined its Strategic Plan for the Texas Emergency Healthcare System in December 2020 around 6 pillars:

  •         Prevention
  •         Coordinated Clinical Care
  •         Emergency Medical Services
  •         Performance Improvement
  •         Emergency Preparedness and Response
  •         System Integration

DSHS Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt outlined how the department plans to move forward with those strategies, speaking at the 2022 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference in April.


“… We’ve been given an enormous opportunity to fund public health infrastructure to flesh out and have more staff,” said Hellerstedt. “In Texas, we’re a home rural state so we have many city and county health departments that are independent of the Department of State Health Services. They’re getting funding, we’re getting funding, so personnel, more trained personnel, better data systems, more modernized data systems… I think all those things will help and I hope that those are capabilities that we will retain in the future.”


The Austin Emergency Medical Services Association (AEMSA) and the City of Austin are currently engaged in arbitration over the new terms of the Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services Collective Bargaining Agreement and workers’ pay scale. The last agreement, reached in 2018, is set to expire in September of this year.

The EMS union rejected the city’s offer of a 14 cent raise last month and is seeking a raise to $27 per hour as the starting wage for paramedics.