AUSTIN (KXAN) — A staff of over 500 paramedics cover and respond to more than a million people, according to Austin-Travis County EMS’ website.
With the average amount of 9-1-1 calls they receive each year exceeding 100,000, top-notch facilities aren’t just nice to have, they need to have them.
With an ever-growing population, those calls and their response times become more challenging. In February, an audit found Austin Police and Fire departments missed a number of their 9-1-1 response time goals, according to 2018 data. However, the same audit revealed that ATCEMS met most of its own.
In light of such findings, more fire/EMS stations continue to reopen with improvements.
ATCEMS continues to meet the challenge. They officially reopened another station Monday morning: EMS Station 11 in southwest Austin. It is located on McCarty Lane. The station is one of three remodels funded by a past 2012 bond. Five more remodels are expected — all funded by a sequential 2018 bond. Crews celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a facility tour.
Station 11 features more sleep space, a larger kitchen and a lounge room upstairs to relax and study, among other amenities. The small stuff matters to the health and wellness of the first responders.
ATCEMS division chief Wesley Hopkins said, “There’s a big emphasis being placed on the mental wellness, physical wellness of the EMS paramedics.”
Our medics on the ambulance are incredibly busy, they have hectic schedules, sometimes they work 24-hour shifts, sometimes they work 12, depending on how busy the ambulance is. So having a place on an ambulance when you’re working those long shifts that you can kind of check out, get a little downtime, get a little rest, sometimes it’s just about privacy and so what this station does is it allows us to have a place to go check-in and kind of just manage fatigue, which is something that we watch very closely.Hopkins
Hopkins believes if you have medics who are better rested and feel supported and comfortable, it will end up positively impacting their job performance.
“We know that we don’t want them on a call when they are fatigued and tired, so we believe that if you set the environment for them to just have some basic living needs while they’re working those shifts, they’re going to do better,” Hopkins said.
Currently, there are 37 EMS stations in Austin-Travis County. A map of those stations in the area can be found here.