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Travis County faces ambulance shortage

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Austin and Travis County are growing. With that growth comes an increased need for emergency services. The disagreement is how to make sure there are no gaps in geographical coverage.

"We started this journey back in October 2012 when the commissioner's court unanimously approved to move forward with the three ambulances necessary for appropriate coverage," said Tony Marquardt, the President of the Austin/Travis County EMS Association.

There are three areas in particular he is most concerned about.

Tony said, "After hours there is no coverage in Bee Caves area. That's the same thing at Kellie Lane in Pflugerville. Right now, at Austin's Colony and 969, there's no ambulance."

The Travis County Commissioner's court recently approved using some of the 2013 funds for a 12 hour, or part-time ambulance in Austin's Colony.

Travis County Judge, Sam Biscoe, said, "The question is always, is there a better way to do this? Staff recommend four or five things we should do, including hiring an outside consultant to assist us."

Biscoe says they're speeding up the process of searching for alternative solutions to longer response times for some residents.

Biscoe said, "We have ten stations, but about six or seven of them are really underutilized. You hope to get 42% utilization and we're getting 5%, 6%, 7% in a lot of them."

"Some stations may not have a lot of call volume, but when an emergency call does occur, I mean, that's somebody's family member that we're taking a chance with," added Tony.

It's a decision that some say shouldn't be rushed, while others believe the discussions are putting people's lives at risk.

In the next 2 to 3 months, the court hopes to have an outside consultant on board.

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