AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced Tuesday he selected Robert Luckritz as the next Austin-Travis County EMS chief.

Five finalists were announced in January from 37 applicants, including interim chief Jasper Brown.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to be the City of Austin’s next EMS Chief,” Luckritz said, according to a news release from the city. “I look forward to creating opportunities to support and empower employees of the department in order to provide exceptional EMS services to the residents of Austin and Travis County.”

The Austin City Council is set to confirm the appointment during its next meeting on Feb. 17.

Luckritz has been in EMS for more than 25 years, serving many roles including paramedic, instructor, field supervisor, EMS chief and hospital leader, according to the city. He’s currently the COO of Transformative Healthcare in New England.

He’s set to join ATCEMS in the middle of the department’s contract negotiations and amid what some medics call a staffing crisis. ATCEMS currently has 124 vacancies.

ATCEMS submitted a staffing report to City Council's Public Safety Committee Tuesday. (Courtesy: ATCEMS)
ATCEMS submitted a staffing report to City Council’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday. (Courtesy: ATCEMS)

“Filling vacancies and reducing unwanted overtime is the key to everything,” said Interim Chief Jasper Brown in a presentation to the City Council Public Safety Committee Tuesday.

In efforts to remedy that, through April 15, medics will now get double pay for voluntary overtime instead of just time-and-a-half. “So far it’s been very positive and has reduced the number of people we’re having to call in off our on-call list,” Brown said.

“It has improved our staffing temporarily,” added Austin EMS Association President Selena Xie. “What we really need to do is hire more staff, and that requires more base pay.”

The department graduated 11 cadets Monday, according to the committee presentation.

The latest group of ATCEMS graduated Monday. (Courtesy: ATCEMS)
The latest group of ATCEMS graduated Monday. (Courtesy: ATCEMS)

In an email to city council members and ATCEMS medics, Brown said, “I will be communicating with Mr. Luckritz in the coming days and weeks to ensure I do everything I can to make the change as smooth as possible, and I am sure each of you will do the same upon his arrival.”

The city’s EMS department serves 2.2 million people across Austin and Travis County and covers more than 1,000 square miles. The chief is responsible for “strategic planning, leadership, and oversight of all operations of the EMS Department.”