AUSTIN, Texas — The new chief of Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) was sworn in on Friday, May 13 after being named to the position earlier this year.
Robert Luckritz was selected from a field of 37 applicants by Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk, with consultation by Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano.
“I am pleased to announce Robert Luckritz as our next EMS chief,” City Manager Spencer Cronk previously said. “I am confident that his extensive knowledge of EMS services and programs will bring the leadership and vision we are seeking for the future of our EMS services.”
Austin's EMS department provides 911 emergency response to residents of both Austin and Travis County, serving a population of more than 2.2 million citizens in a service region of more than 1,039 square miles.
The chief is responsible for directing strategic planning, leadership and oversight of all operations of the EMS department. The chief's office includes the community relations team, human resources, businesses analysis and research team, and safety. They are responsible for a variety of tasks, including working with and educating the community, analyzing data to improve performance, ensuring continued employee safety, recruiting our employees, and providing them needed resources.
"The EMS agencies that are going to be successful in the future are the EMS agencies that focus on culture," Luckritz said. "How do we make this a place where people want to come to work, where people love working here? And I think that that's an organization that we have and we really just need to continue to capitalize it."
Luckritz was sworn in during a time of union negotiations for better pay. While the chief could not comment on the pay negotiations, he acknowledged emergency service agencies across the country were dealing with a shortage of people.
"I've heard the concerns that morale is an issue in the department, and that's why my focus moving forward is going to be on culture," Luckritz said. "It's going to be on making sure that the executive leadership of the department is out there in the field, are spending time with our providers. I made a commitment when I went through this process that I was going to be out there, that I would spend time working with the crews on ambulances that would be out on the night shifts. And I'm going to fulfill that promise."
Selena Xie, the Austin EMS union president, said having a new chief won't impact negotiations.
"It's very scary the picture that our EMS medics are saying that they are going to walk with their feet if [pay] is not substantially improved," Xie said.
The council confirmed Luckritz's appointment at its Feb. 17 council meeting. He began his new role on March 14.
Luckritz has worked in EMS for more than 25 years, holding titles like paramedic, instructor, field supervisor, hospital leader and even EMS chief. He was previously the chief operating officer of Transformative Healthcare, a multi-state EMS, Medical Transportation, and Public Health organization in New England.
“I would like to thank Jasper Brown for his exceptional leadership while serving as Interim EMS Chief since June of 2021. His dedication and commitment to the City, EMS Department, and the community is truly admirable and greatly appreciated,” said Cronk.
He was officially sworn in during a ceremony Friday, May 13, at City Hall. Guest speakers included Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk, Assistant City Manager Rey Arrellano, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and City of Austin Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Escott.
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