Competition Intense for Suburban Emergency Service Providers

24 12 2014

The following article was written by Jayme Fraser, and published by the Houston Chronicle on December 16, 2014.

FBC EMS patch

Competition Intense for Suburban Emergency Service Providers

Rapid growth and a changing health care market have increased competition among some suburban emergency service providers, driving up starting wages and challenging Fort Bend County and other communities to fill vacancies.

“We’ve had an unusual number of openings,” said Daniel Kosler, Fort Bend County’s director of emergency medical services.

Of the 76 paramedic positions budgeted for 2015, he had as many as 15 positions open at any one time. He said it drove up overtime spending, left the county unable to deploy some units and made it difficult for the remaining paramedics to use vacation time.

County commissioners on Tuesday approved a one-time exception allowing paramedic employees to exceed a cap on the number of vacation hours they carry over to the new year. One employee will start January with more than 300 vacation hours, almost twice the county’s limit.

Demand for health care workers, including paramedics, has been rising around the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for emergency medical technicians and paramedics will increase 26 percent between 2012 and 2022, more than double the rate across all industries. In the last five years, Texas has seen median wages for those positions rise 10 percent, more than the national average of 4 percent, based on federal statistics.

Although local governments have employed a third or more of EMTs and paramedics for decades, the expanding health care industry will shrink that share, the bureau predicted.

Dr. Richard Bradley questioned the federal bureau’s projections, noting that EMTs and paramedics serve different health care roles and attract different people. EMT certifications require less training, which limits what they’re authorized to do for patients. Paramedics build on EMT education to perform more advanced kinds of emergency medical care and make critical care decisions faster in high-risk environments. Bradley said few who push through the intense two-year paramedic training do so to be employed as an EMT transferring patients between hospitals rather than as a paramedic rushing to the scenes of accidents.

“The 911 jobs are what every paramedic wants to do,” said Bradley, who worked as a paramedic and firefighter before becoming a doctor and the University of Texas Health Science Center’s chief of emergency medical services and disaster medicine. “You don’t see many paramedics leaving a government job for a private sector job.”

Harris County Emergency Corps. also reported a slowdown in applications received for recent openings. Marketing Director Abbey Lee attributed the shift to changing qualifications and on-the-job expectations that have limited the number of people who complete training.

“The paramedic role is in a period of transition from vocation to profession,” she said. “Education requirements to become a licensed paramedic have changed in the last decade, making the paramedic role not as achievable as it once was.”

In part because the jobs are more demanding and often require specialized skills, government employers on average pay paramedics and EMTs more than many private-sector businesses do, according to federal labor statistics from May 2013. Average wages by employer type ranged from $9 to $26 an hour.

The Houston region’s growth could push salaries even higher, Bradley said.

“A lot of our outlying neighborhoods are growing so quickly we’re seeing an increase in the number of ambulances that have to be available to answer 911 calls,” he said.

He has heard reports from Houston EMS providers that they are losing employees to positions elsewhere that pay more and have better schedules.

Lee reported that the rise of combined Fire-EMS departments also has increased job competition.

Kosler agreed those factors contributed to Fort Bend’s slew of vacancies, as well as a handful of retirements. He expects that a job fair held Monday helped fill some open positions, but not all.

Kosler warned that retention problems likely will remain unless the commissioners court approves recommendations he plans to make in January, including pay increases to make the county more competitive with other EMS services.

“To be competitive,” he said, “you have to be in the marketplace.”

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2011 Texas Legislative Session – March 13th

13 03 2011

Below you will find a listing of  Emergency Management related bills as of March 13, 2011.    Information about 53  bills is noted below.

The 82nd Texas Legislature will be in session 140 days.  The first day of the session was Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and the last day of the session is Monday, May 30, 2011.  The last day to file regular bills was Friday, March 11, 2011.  Governor Perry has until June 19th to review bills passed by the State Legislature.  He can sign a bill to authorize new law, or he can let a bill become law without signing, or he can veto a bill.

HB 1  – (Pitts) Relating to General Appropriations.  Among other things, this bill would reduce expenditures for 9-1-1 Network by 27%; reduce by 48% disaster funding to state and local agencies when the Governor finds the demands on funds regularly appropriated are insufficient to respond to a particular disaster; reduce by Criminal Justice grants by 55%, impacting the number of grants awarded from an estimated 900 in FY 2011 to approximately 520 each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium; and eliminate funding for the Flood Control Dam Grant Program which provides operations and maintenance, structural repair, and rehabilitation needs to flood control dams across the State.

HB 614   –  (Hopson)  Relating to allowing health care providers to provide services across state lines in catastrophic circumstances.

HB 803 – (Bonnen) Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area.  SB 432 is identical.

HB 805 – (Callegari) Relating the requirement that certain water service providers ensure emergency operations during an extended power outage.

HB 837 – (Taylor, Van) Relating to the authority of peace officers to request thumbprints during motor vehicle stops.

HB 993 – (Rodriguez, E.)  Relating to the closure of a road or highway by certain firefighters.

HB 1030 – (Miller) Relating to the powers and duties of certain emergency services districts.

HB 1075 – (Anderson) Relating to the consolidation of certain alert system into a single statewide alert system and to the addition of other factors that will prompt an alert under the consolidated system.

HB 1092 – (Christian)  Relating to the exemption from certain construction requirements for volunteer fire departments in certain counties.

HB 1125 – (Burnam)  Relating to a study regarding the odorization of natural gas transported in gathering and transmission lines located in populated areas.

HB 1147 – (Smith) Relating to notice by a governmental entity regarding certain geospatial data products.  SB 442 is identical.

HB 1174 – (Workman) Relating to the expiration of a county burn ban.

HB 1217 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty.

HB 1319 – (Laubenberg) Relating to the calculation and reporting of water usage and conservation by municipalities and water utilities.

HB 1354 – (Davis, S.)  Relating to liability of certain certified municipal inspector for services rendered during an emergency or disaster.

HB 1379 – (Anchia)  Relating to the purchasing of a firearm from the county by an honorably retired law enforcement officer.

HB 1476  –  (Riddle)  Relating to the grounds for revocation of an emergency medical services personnel certification.

HB 1561  –  (Orr)  Relating to the authority of a municipality to implement a photographic traffic signal enforcement system and impose civil penalties.

HB 1619 – (Orr)  Relating to emergency services districts.

HB 1711 – (Davis, John)  Relating to disaster remediation contracts; providing penalties.

HB 1750 – (Darby)  Relating to the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to lease and contract for the operation of rolling stock during certain emergencies.

HB 1765 – (Miller, Sid)  Relating to an emergency public service messaging network.  Identical to SB 971

HB 1791 – (Kleinschmidt)  Relating to emergency services districts.

HB 1861 – (Anchia)  Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on State Emergency Communications.  Identical to SB 648.

HB 1878 – (Miller, Doug)  Relating to emergency service districts.  Identical to SB 917.

HB 1911 – (Bonnen)  Relating to the liability of certain persons for damages arising from training exercises to prepare the persons to respond to certain emergencies.  Brazoria County emergency management officials worked to get this legislation proposed for consideration.

HB 1917 – (Schwertner)  Relating to the removal of appointed emergency services commissioners by a commissioners court.

HB 1986 – (Turner)  Relating to the authority of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions.

HB 2035 – (Hamilton)  Relating to the temporary relocation of alcoholic beverage distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises during a period of emergency and delivery of alcoholic beverages to a distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises.

HB 2040 – (Hamilton)  Relating to critical incident stress management and crisis response services.

HB 2075 – (Martinez, Mando)  Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

HB 2099 – (Truitt)  Relating to an alert for a missing person with an intellectual disability.

HB 2158 – (Coleman)  Relating to a prohibition against the use of a stun gun or taser by school district peace officers, security personnel, and other employees against certain public school students.  Identical to SB 1239.

HB 2239 – (Coleman)  Relating to the minimum number of county jailers necessary to staff a county jail.

HB 2257 – (Phillips)  Relating to communications during a disaster or an emergency by public service providers.  Identical to SB 1238.

HB 2369 – (Quintanilla et al)  Relating to the accreditation of training programs and examinations for certain emergency medical services personnel.

HB 2390 – (Davis, Sarah)  Relating to the types of information relating to emergency responses that are confidential.

HB 2411 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent under certain circumstances following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty.

HB 2462 – (Bonnen)  Relating to motor vehicles used for fire, emergency or disaster response purposes.

HB 2858 – (Gallego)  Relating to the definition of emergency services personnel for purposes of the enhanced penalty prescribed for an assault committed against a person providing services in that capacity.

HB 2979 – (Hunter)  Relating to county authority to provide certain exemptions to restrictions on outdoor burning.

HB 3060 – (Smithee)  Relating to arbitration of certain claims under residential property insurance policies.

HB 3219 – (Thompson)  Relating to intelligence data standards and protected personal information.

SB 9 – Relating to Homeland Security.  The content of this proposed legislation relates to verification of immigration status of person charged with committing offense.

SB 106 – (Davis, Wendy)  Relating to condemnation of municipal property for, and municipal regulation of, pipeline operations.

SB 319 – (Carona)  Relating to financing programs for low-income electric customers and certain other electric customers.

SB 389 – (Williams)  Relating to emergency preparedness during an extended power outage of a water service provider with at lease 250 connections.

SB 418   –   (Williams)  Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns by certain persons attending a school board meeting.

SB 617  –  (Rodriguez)  Relating a manifest system to record the transportation of certain liquid wastes.

SB 917 – (Wentworth)  Relating to emergency service districts.

SB 969 – (Nelson)  Relating to the establishment of the Public Health Funding and Policy Advisory Committee with the Department of State Health Services.

SB 1205 – (Jackson)  Relating to the application of the limit on appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes to an improvement that is a replacement structure for a structure that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by a casualty or by wind or water damage.

SB 1206 – (Deuell)  Relating to medical care and health care services provided by a health care professional in a licensed freestanding emergency medical care facility.

SB 1461 – (Lucio)  Relating to the creation of the disaster reconstruction coordination office withing the governor’s office; creating the disaster contingency account.

For a PDF listing:  billreport 3-13-11

The PDF lists the bills, and includes information on the status of each bill.  At this point, many of the bills have been assigned to committees for review.  Public hearings have been called to hear testimony on some bills.

If you know of other bills that I may have missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!  Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and made suggestions.

Also, please consider subscribing to this blog to receive the legislative information directly.





2011 Texas Legislative Session – March 5th

5 03 2011

Below you will find a listing of  Emergency Management related bills as of March 5, 2011.    Information about 42 bills is shown below.

The 82nd Texas Legislature will be in session 140 days.  The first day of the session was Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and the last day of the session is Monday, May 30, 2011.  The last day to file regular bills be Friday, March 11, 2011.  Governor Perry has until June 19th to review bills passed by the State Legislature.  He can sign a bill to authorize new law, or he can let a bill become law without signing, or he can veto a bill.

HB 1  – (Pitts) Relating to General Appropriations.  Among other things, this bill would reduce expenditures for 9-1-1 Network by 27%; reduce by 48% disaster funding to state and local agencies when the Governor finds the demands on funds regularly appropriated are insufficient to respond to a particular disaster; reduce by Criminal Justice grants by 55%, impacting the number of grants awarded from an estimated 900 in FY 2011 to approximately 520 each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium; and eliminate funding for the Flood Control Dam Grant Program which provides operations and maintenance, structural repair, and rehabilitation needs to flood control dams across the State.

HB 614   –  (Hopson)  Relating to allowing health care providers to provide services across state lines in catastrophic circumstances

HB 803 – (Bonnen) Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area.  SB 432 is identical

HB 805 – (Callegari) Relating the requirement that certain water service providers ensure emergency operations during an extended power outage

HB 837 – (Taylor, Van) Relating to the authority of peace officers to request thumbprints during motor vehicle stops

HB 993 – (Rodriguez, E.)  Relating to the closure of a road or highway by certain firefighters

HB 1030 – (Miller) Relating to the powers and duties of certain emergency services districts

HB 1075 – (Anderson) Relating to the consolidation of certain alert system into a single statewide alert system and to the addition of other factors that will prompt an alert under the consolidated system

HB 1092 – (Christian)  Relating to the exemption from certain construction requirements for volunteer fire departments in certain counties

HB 1125 – (Burnam)  Relating to a study regarding the odorization of natural gas transported in gathering and transmission lines located in populated areas

HB 1147 – (Smith) Relating to notice by a governmental entity regarding certain geospatial data products.  SB 442 is identical

HB 1174 – (Workman) Relating to the expiration of a county burn ban

HB 1217 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty

HB 1319 – (Laubenberg) Relating to the calculation and reporting of water usage and conservation by municipalities and water utilities

HB 1354 – (Davis, S.)  Relating to liability of certain certified municipal inspector for services rendered during an emergency or disaster

HB 1379 – (Anchia)  Relating to the purchasing of a firearm from the county by an honorably retired law enforcement officer

HB 1476  –  (Riddle)  Relating to the grounds for revocation of an emergency medical services personnel certification

HB 1561  –  (Orr)  Relating to the authority of a municipality to implement a photographic traffic signal enforcement system and impose civil penalties

HB 1619 – (Orr)  Relating to emergency services districts

HB 1711 – (Davis, John)  Relating to disaster remediation contracts; providing penalties

HB 1750 – (Darby)  Relating to the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to lease and contract for the operation of rolling stock during certain emergencies

HB 1765 – (Miller, Sid)  Relating to an emergency public service messaging network.  Identical to SB 971

HB 1791 – (Kleinschmidt)  Relating to emergency services districts

HB 1861 – (Anchia)  Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on State Emergency Communications

HB 1878 – (Miller, Doug)  Relating to emergency service districts.  Identical to SB 917

HB 1911 – (Bonnen)  Relating to the liability of certain persons for damages arising from training exercises to prepare the persons to respond to certain emergencies.  Brazoria County emergency management officials worked to get this legislation proposed for consideration.

HB 1917 – (Schwertner)  Relating to the removal of appointed emergency services commissioners by a commissioners court

HB 1986 – (Turner)  Relating to the authority of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions

HB 2035 – (Hamilton)  Relating to the temporary relocation of alcoholic beverage distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises during a period of emergency and delivery of alcoholic beverages to a distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises.

HB 2040 – (Hamilton)  Relating to critical incident stress management and crisis response services.

HB 2075 – (Martinez, Mando)  Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by firefighters and emergency medical technicians

HB 2099 – (Truitt)  Relating to an alert for a missing person with an intellectual disability.

HB 2158 – (Coleman)  Relating to a prohibition against the use of a stun gun or taser by school district peace officers, security personnel, and other employees against certain public school students.

HB 2239 – (Coleman)  Relating to the minimum number of county jailers necessary to staff a county jail.

HB 2257 – (Phillips)  Relating to communications during a disaster or an emergency by public service providers.

SB 9 – Relating to Homeland Security.  The content of this proposed legislation relates to verification of immigration status of person charged with committing offense.

SB 106 – (Davis, Wendy)  Relating to condemnation of municipal property for, and municipal regulation of, pipeline operations.

SB 319 – (Carona)  Relating to financing programs for low-income electric customers and certain other electric customers.

SB 389 – (Williams)  Relating to emergency preparedness during an extended power outage of a water service provider with at lease 250 connections

SB 418   –   (Williams)  Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns by certain persons attending a school board meeting

SB 617  –  (Rodriguez)  Relating a manifest system to record the transportation of certain liquid wastes

SB 917 – (Wentworth)  Relating to emergency service districts

SB 969 – (Nelson)  Relating to the establishment of the Public Health Funding and Policy Advisory Committee with the Department of State Health Services

For a PDF listing:  billreport 3-05-11 

The PDF lists the bills, and includes information on the status of each bill.  At this point, many of the bills have been assigned to committees for review.  Public hearings have been called to hear testimony on some bills.

If you know of other bills that I may have missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!  Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and made suggestions.

Also, please consider subscribing to this blog to receive the legislative information directly.





New Fort Bend EMS building opens

4 11 2010

From Tuesday, November 2 Fort Bend Herald article by Don Munsch:

Michael McDill said when the former Emergency Medical Service building opened about 26 years ago, he thought it was the Taj Mahal.  The new EMS building may not be confused with the renowned Indian mausoleum, but is considered a welcome upgrade nonetheless.

County, fire department and emergency services employees attended a ribbon cutting for the new EMS building on Texas 36 in Rosenberg on Monday.  EMS employees moved into the new building about 2 1/2 weeks ago, but are still in the process of moving in, said McDill, EMS deputy chief clinical.

Don Brady, director of the facilities management and planning department for Fort Bend County, said that with only a couple of minor punch list items remaining, the cost of the new building to date is $2.4 million.

The old building is currently being used by the county collections department, which reports to the county treasurer, Brady said.  The county plans to ultimately move collections to the Travis Building once the new justice center opens, and the building will revert to the parks department, which oversees operations at the fairgrounds, Brady said.

McDill gave a tour of the new building, which features a multipurpose room, four dormitory rooms, inventory warehouse, conference room, kitchen, living room, administrative offices, a large garage and plenty of storage space.  The multipurpose room seats 40 people and contains two flat-screen televisions, a projector screen for PowerPoint presentations and a CPR dummy.

The new building will have one ambulance on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and then has one ambulance called a ready reserve, which means it’s licensed by the state and can be used at a moment’s notice.  Two emergency response/disaster units are being housed at the new building. The plan is for one of them to be stationed in the east side of the county, McDill said.

“We love it,” McDill said about the new building. “We’ve been without a classroom for over 10 years, so we’ve been borrowing, begging, carrying our equipment to other places to teach.

“But now we’ll be able to do it in house.”

Daniel Kosler, director of Emergency Medical Service, was excited about the new building.  “It’s a building that we’ve been looking forward to for a number of years,” he said. “It allows to function in a true office environment.

“Our previous office was somewhat tight.”

“To be in this building provides a really great feeling.”

Some paperwork and equipment eventually will have to be moved into the new building from the old building, but fortunately, he said, “it’s only 30 yards away.”  The building provides service for 90 percent of the county. EMS employees have offices and mobile response units with fire departments around the county.





Fort Bend County Breaks Ground On Emergency Medical Service Headquarters

11 02 2010

As reported on FortBendNow.com on February 11, 2010, Fort Bend County Officials broke ground this week at the new Emergency Medical Service Headquarters to be located at 4332 Highway 36 in Rosenberg.   The new 14,116 square foot building will include administrative offices, Medic One facilities, training and class rooms, conference rooms, a bunk area, storage capacity, and vehicle parking for employees and various Regional Response Vehicles that are in the county’s possession. 

The anticipated completion of the building is September 2010.  EMS Director, Daniel Kosler commented,   “Today is an exciting day for the employees of Emergency Medical Services,” said EMS Director Daniel Kosler. “We are all excited about the future transition into the new building, primarily the amount of additional space we will have.  This facility will allow us to continue to provide quality services to the citizens of Fort Bend County and will serve us well.”

Shown in the photo are Bob Bass, Jamie Knight, Kaye Reynolds, James Patterson, Bob Hebert, Jean Galloway, Daniel Kosler and Ben Oei at the recent groundbreaking for Fort Bend County’s new Emergency Medical Services Headquarters.





Fire, Police and EMS Recognized by Sugar Land City Council

4 02 2010

The following item was published on The Police News web site on February 4, 2010:

Local public safety professionals were recognized for heroic efforts that saved the life of a man trapped in his vehicle.  Members of the Sugar Land Fire and Police Departments and Fort Bend County EMS extricated an unconscious man with a severe head wound and fractures on Oct. 25, 2009.
 
Their actions helped saved the man’s life and earned recognition from Sugar Land City Council and a Gold Pin Award from Holmatro USA, a company that designs and manufactures hydraulic life-saving tools.  The first to respond to the accident involving an 18-wheeler and a pickup truck was Sugar Land Police Officer Daniel Boykin, who crawled inside the passenger vehicle to check on the trapped driver. Boykin stabilized the man’s head and neck until fire and EMS arrived.
 
“The driver was trapped, unconscious, had severe bleeding from the head, obvious fractures, and did not respond to any stimulus,” said Sugar Land Fire Capt. Tom Anderson, who nominated the group for recognition.   Due to the precarious position the truck, firefighters worked together to stabilize the vehicle, while others attempted to remove the roof of the truck while perched atop a ladder extended from a fire truck.  Using a variety of extrication tools, the first-responders were able to safely remove the trapped man.  The driver was transported by Life Flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center where he was later listed in stable condition.

Pictured (L-R) during a recognition ceremony at Sugar Land City Hall are Fort Bend EMS Lt. Ron Dille, Fort Bend EMS paramedic Jessica Richmond and Fort Bend EMS paramedic Tamma Blair; SLFD firefighters Robert Danford, Randy Bayes and Donnie Tomlinson; SLFD Fire Chief Adame; SLFD firefighter Jeremy Brown; Mayor James Thompson; Sugar Land police officer Daniel Boykin; SLFD Battalion Chief Javier Crespo; and SLFD Lt. Craig Swinghammer.





Work Begins on New EMS Building in Rosenberg

14 01 2010

The article below was written by Don Munsch and appeared in the January 13, 2010 edition of the Fort Bend Herald.

Ground work is in progress on the new county Emergency Medical Service building on Highway 36 in Rosenberg.  The building, which will have just under 15,000 square feet, will be constructed behind the current building.  “We will have our own training classroom in there, which this building had originally, but as we continued to expand, that (space) was taken up by the billing office, and our training has been done off-site,” said Daniel Kosler, director of Emergency Medical Service for Fort Bend County.

With the new building, EMS will be able to house all of its vehicles, including its regional response trailers. EMS administrative offices will be in the new building once the construction is done.  “Pretty much what we have here will be just moving over there, except for the billing office,” Kosler said. “The billing (department) is a part of the treasurer’s office now, so they will stay here until the justice complex is completed and that will free up room in the William B. Travis Building. At that time, it’s my understanding that there’s plans to move the billing office there.”

Kosler said once the building phase of the EMS project begins, it will be finished in eight months. He anticipates it will be completed in August or September.  “We’re ecstatic,” he said about moving into a new building. “Right now we have some people sharing offices, which were originally meant for one person. We’re ecstatic about being in a building that is safe. I’ve been told by a county engineer that’s no longer with the county that our gas canopy out here (behind the EMS building) is wind-rated higher than this building. So we will feel safe in that building. We won’t have to be concerned about relocating the staff during times of a potential hurricane strike.

 “We’re looking forward to this new facility,” he said. “It’s going to allow us to hold the medical supply inventory that’s currently housed out back here in a separate building. All of that will be under one roof.” 

The new building will have four dorm rooms, a conference room, offices and classrooms, among other rooms. The building will have bays for vehicles and storage space for the medical supplies.  “It’s our understanding that, at this point anyway, this building would then be lowered or destroyed and an additional parking would be here,” he said. “But anything could change between now and then.”

The current building was constructed in 1985.  “It’s lasted us 24 years,” Kosler said. “Hopefully this one will last us a lot longer.