EMS in Texas

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies are a vital part of every community and serve a unique role in the state’s health care delivery system. EMS providers are the only segment of the health care delivery system designed to respond to the location of a patient suffering from an acute onset of illness or a traumatic injury, provide patients with initial care on scene, and provide timely access to a specialized segment of the health care system, such as a trauma hospital or stroke center.

Recent EMS advances in the fields of trauma, SEPSIS and cardiac/stroke events have resulted in countless saved lives. For many of these issues, every minute matters, and paramedics are prepared to provide valuable responses during initial contact and transfer to a hospital.

When symptoms of a heart attack begin to present, cardiologists recommend that a patient call 9-1-1 instead of driving to a hospital. Within many EMS agencies, paramedics have the ability to begin treatment within the field. Paramedics can assess the patient’s vital signs and heart activity and trigger the cardiac catheterization lab at the hospital. Research finds that patients who have access to an angioplasty within 90 minutes of first medical contact typically have the best outcomes.

Each EMS Agency Is Different

Over 800 entities are licensed by Texas DSHS to provide EMS service to Texas communities. Texas is such a large and diverse state that each community utilizes a different model for delivering 9-1-1 services to its citizens. Some of the models include:

Fire Department Model. Some communities have its EMS operations associated with the community’s fire department. The cities of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Lewisville and Flower Mound are examples.

Government Owned and Operated EMS Model (“3rd Service). Some EMS agencies within communities operate as an independent agency within the local government (City, County, Emergency Services District, Hospital District, etc.) and are separate from the fire department. This is called a “3rd Service EMS Agency” in which the hospital has three services: policy, fire and EMS. Austin/Travis County is an example.

Contracted EMS. Some citizens or counties may contractually outsource their 9-1-1 ambulance service to a private company. Bastrop County is an example.

Chartered or Private EMS Agency. Some counties or cities may work with an EMS agency, which is a non-profit originally formed as a volunteer organization, to provide 9-1-1 services. Harris County Emergency Corps, which was Texas’ first EMS agency in 1927, is an example.

The Cost of Readiness

EMS agencies are expected to be prepared to meet an emergency at every minute of the day. Yet there is a cost associated with the “cost of readiness.” Click here to learn more: TEMSA COST OF READINESS 2016

Rural EMS

Texas is a diverse state that features numerous EMS agencies in the rural setting. The 2017 Texas Legislature responded to TEMSA’s request to train more paramedics in the rural setting by passing HB 1407.

Local Project Grants

LPGs have provided vital training and capital equipment to both urban and rural EMS agencies. However, LPG funding has been eliminated. HB 1407 from the 2017 Texas Legislature included a provision to renew LPGs. Click here to learn more about LPGs:  LPGs TEMSA 2017