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ATCEMS reports fewer medics out with COVID-19, but still at 'increased readiness'

Earlier in January, ATCEMS reported about 20% of its medics were out sick with the virus.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) officials have downgraded their staff protocols amid a decrease in the number of medics testing positive for COVID-19.

Earlier in January, ATCEMS elevated its response to the COVID-19 surge after about 20% of its medics were sickened with the virus. That increase marked a significant upward trend from where ATCEMS was a week before, when officials said about 5% of its medics had either tested positive for COVID-19 or were awaiting test results.

On Thursday Jan. 6, ATCEMS had 66 sworn staff out because of the virus and 12 civilian staff. It has a workforce of about 500.

RELATED: Austin first responders facing strain amid staffing shortages due to COVID-19

Because of that, ATCEMS had moved from a position of "increased readiness" that was elevated on Dec. 29 to "escalated response conditions."

But over the weekend of Jan. 14-16, the agency returned from "escalated response conditions" to "increased readiness."

That's still a bump from normal conditions, and calls for medics to be prepared for emergency callback. Medics must leave their phones on and be ready to receive calls 24 hours a day. Messages from their supervisors must be returned within 15 minutes.

Previously, most administrative staff were returned to the street, and the EMS training academy was suspended for two weeks. The agency suspended new vacation requests until Jan. 29. ATCEMS had also paused helping with blood draws at the Travis County Jail.

KVUE continues to monitor other public safety agencies, including police and fire. So far, they say they do have plans ready should more employees become sick but are not yet having to put new measures in effect.


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