Public Safety

2017 Year in Review

Austin Fire Department

The Austin Fire Department (AFD) is committed to creating safer communities through prevention, preparedness, and effective emergency response.
Airport fire station
  • Worked toward goal of creating a regional fire response model. The City and Emergency Services District (ESD) 4 merged, and AFD assumed control of all ESD4 fire stations and qualified ESD4 firefighting personnel who had been accepted into, and graduated from, a modified Training Academy.
  • Created the Peer Support Team whose members are available 24/7/365 to help support AFD’s personnel and their families during times of crisis. The idea was expanded to include Austin/Travis County EMS with the launch of, developed to empower Austin’s public safety employees to achieve lifelong wellness through behavioral, mental, and physical health.
2017 Fire Academy exercise
Firefighters installing Free Smoke Alarms
  • Graduated four Cadet Classes—119 (February), 120 (April), 121 (September), and 122 (October)—putting 104 new cadets in Operations. 
  • Created the Fleet Liaison position at Service Center 6 to better facilitate communication between Operations’ companies regarding the status of their units and the Fleet Service Center doing the repairs and preventive maintenance.
  • Established a “Short-use Ready Reserves” program to limit out-of-service time for an Operations’ company. Having a fully stocked, Short-use Ready Reserve unit prepared when a crew drops off their apparatus for maintenance allows them to get back in service in just a few minutes.
  • Installed 2,520 smoke alarms through AFD’s free smoke alarm program. Attended/conducted 194 Public Education events, fulfilled 598 apparatus requests, and conducted 948 Community Relations events, including serving more than 600 elderly Austinites at AFD’s 15th annual Senior Holiday Luncheon.
  • Led the nation in career department hours spent on wildfire mitigation and preparedness. Staff spent 789 hours on fuels reduction projects covering 1,235 acres across various City-owned properties.
  • Council approved the use of Compliance Engine (a third-party vendor), to better manage citywide compliance in the serviceability of fire protection systems in buildings.
Firefighters fixing garage damage
  • After the Station 17/C-shift crew helped an 82-year-old man learn how to properly don a fall safety harness, they discovered he wanted to install a tin roof on his shed. The firefighters decided the work was too dangerous for him and did the job themselves after work hours.
  • After a drunk driver drove into a family’s garage in the middle of the night and fled the scene, the C-shift crew from Rescue 14 safely removed a vehicle from the garage so the residents could get to work. Firefighters then shored and secured the garage until the family could hire a contractor to make the necessary repairs.
  • Richard Davis appointed as the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Representative to the National Council on Public Safety Unmanned Aerial Systems.
  • Coitt Kessler appointed as the International Association of Firefighters’  Representative to the National Council on Public Safety Unmanned Aerial Systems.
  • Justice Jones appointed to the International Association of Firefighters’ Wildland Fire Policy Committee.
  • Secured the first-ever, five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters’ Association/Local 975.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services

The mission of the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Department is to provide excellent patient care to anyone, any time, any place in order to decrease suffering, improve the health of the community and save lives.
Emergency Communications
  • Obtained re-accreditation through the International Association of Emergency Dispatchers (IAED) maintaining the status of the 1st Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) in Texas and the 39th in the world.
  • Provided over 1,100 contact hours to 2 Communications Academies consisting of 5 Telecom Interns, 2 Medic I Cadets, and 1 Medic II lateral transfer.
  • Moved 115 patients from the old University Center Brackenridge Hospital to the new Dell Seton Medical Center.
EMS OPerations Staff
Field Operations/ Special Operations Rescue
  • Completed the conversion of all sworn staff from a 48 hour work week to a 42 hour work week
  • Initiated a Beta Test of an Alternative Transport Unit (ATU) for patients low acuity patients still requiring transport to medical facility.
  • Deployed EMS Special Operations Medics to conduct search and rescue operations in effected areas due to Hurricane Harvey (Port Aransas to Houston).
  • Deployed EMS Medics and the AMBUS to evacuate patient with medical needs from nursing homes and hospitals due to Hurricane Harvey.
  • Deployed EMS Medics to provide Incident Management support in forward operating areas and state operations center.
  • Worked with local Emergency Management personnel to setup and run medical support for sheltering operations at multiple sites and supported in logistics and medical of the Mega-Shelter.
Special Events
  • Worked to eliminate or minimize the impact Special Events have on the 911 system for the community at large by providing dedicated staffing and assets for almost 300 events.
  • Planned, organized, and executed the move of approximately 115 non-ambulatory patients in less than 12 hours from University Medical Center Brackenridge to the new Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.
  • Earned national certification for a second Motor Paramedic Instructor.
  • Trained and equipped three additional Motor Paramedics to provide faster emergency care to patients in special events and mass gatherings.
  • Trained and equipped 25 more Track Medics to ensure seamless safety and medical care for drivers, team members, and race fans at Circuit of the Americas.
  • Participated in a variety of community relations events to showcase the various assets we use to keep residents and visitors to our community safe and healthy.
Paramedics putting a patient into an ambulance
Community Relations & Injury Prevention
  • Created and shared EMS Injury Prevention programming “templates” to include program guides and data collection tools in an effort to help replicate sustainable programming in areas of Travis County that are outside City of Austin city limits.  We also shared our program templates on a regional level to help support community education and injury prevention efforts within the CATRAC. 
  • Implemented a digital data platform that has unified all activities into a single data warehouse.  This allows us to evaluate injury prevention programming efforts throughout the region to identify communities who are underserved as well as continually improve our methodology and approach.
  • Transitioned to an online payment system to allow EMS customers to have 24 hour access to make payments. The implementation of Pay Connexion allows EMS customers to make single payments and set up recurring payments without being limited to office hours, this online billing solution is the first step in the EMS billing office goal to make resources more accessible to our customers for a more open billing experience

Community Health Paramedic Program (CHP)
  • Continued to develop the successful Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) in partnership with the Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County Integral Care and the Downtown Austin Alliance. The team continues to proactively serve homeless persons in the central Austin area. In 2017 HOST served over 700 new individuals with more than 1300 Interventions intended to improve their health, safety, and access to preventative and specialty medical care and mental health care.
  • Officially established the Incarcerated Program providing preventative medical care and self-care education for those currently incarcerated in the criminal justice system. The program helps reduce medical emergencies in the facilities and prepares the individuals to care for themselves proactively once released, enrolling over 170 clients who received more than 270 CHP Interventions.
  • Implemented and demonstrated the effectiveness of the first Medical and Functional Needs Assessment (MAFN) screening and management process for evacuee shelter operations during Hurricane Harvey. Implemented by CHP, MAFN operations evaluated and proactively provided for the needs of more than 5000 evacuees across 5 shelters, resulting in only 27 calls being made for EMS from all the shelters combined through the entire month.
  • Established the Pop-Up Resource Clinic program which provides on-site, on-demand connections to medical and mental health resources for homeless persons. The initial clinics, held at various locations in central and south Austin for 3-4 hours at a time, saw as many as 100 attendees in a morning, and provided as many as 220 Interventions to improve their health and reduce their dependence on emergency services.
  • Continued to provide proactive and preventative services for over 1000 new clients in 2017. CHP made over 2000 in-person visits and evaluations, and initiated more than 1400 Interventions.

  • Gold Plus Level Agency Award (quality care for heart attack patients), American Heart Association
  • Accredited EMS Agency by the National Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services
  • Emergency Communications Accredited Center of Excellence with the International Academies of Emergency Dispatchers

Group of people at EMS awards

Austin Police Department

To keep you, your family, and our community safe.
National Night Out
  • Surpassed Part I (the most serious crimes) case clearance rate compared to that of other large U.S. cities in 2016, which is the most recent year for which comparison data is available. The violent crime clearance rate was 46 percent, well above the average of 34 percent for other large US cities. The property crime clearance rate was 13 percent, also above the average of 11 percent for other large U.S. cities.
  • Reduced property crime rate per 1,000 residents by 2 percent from 35.09 in FY 2016 to 34.25 in FY 2017. Austin’s 2016 rate represents a 20-year low.
APD chief manley with school kids
APD officer with Richard Overton on his porch
  • The Part II crime rate remained 8 percent below the four year average at 82 crimes per 1,000 in FY 2017. Part II crimes include drug offenses, fraud, gambling, public intoxication and prostitution—often considered “quality of life” measures that are less commonly reported.
  • Connected 921 individuals experiencing homelessness with services necessary to begin their process of stability and recovery via the Homeless Outreach Street Team.
  • Reduced DWI crashes by 22 percent from the previous year. Fatal crashes involving intoxicated drivers was reduced by 20 percent.
  • Responded to 71 fatal crashes and maintained a 95 percent clearance rate for criminal cases in the Vehicular Homicide Unit.
  • Hired a record number of 210 Cadets for three Recruit classes in 2017. Austin Police Recruiters travelled more than 31,000 miles while attending 117 career fairs nationwide. The Recruiting Unit hired a new social media coordinator who tracked social media “hits,” allowing the department to create specifically tailored advertising and marketing efforts to improve diversity.
  • Deployed 658 Body Worn Cameras to Officers in three Regions as part of the ongoing department-wide deployment, funded with a $750,000 grant.
APD officer dusting for finger prints
  • Reduced overall property crime for the second year in a row. Experienced a 23 percent reduction from 2016, and the number of residential burglaries decreased for the fifth year in a row.  
  • Created a Sex Crimes “Cold Case” Unit to handle the influx of DNA testing results on older and backlogged Sexual Assault Kits. Dedicated four detective positions and one victim services counselor to handle follow up investigation and victim notification.
Provided a wide array of services after the historic flood in Houston and the impact of Hurricane Harvey:
  • A total of 100 officers deployed to Houston over a period of three weeks to assist the Houston Police Department (HPD) restore and maintain order in the aftermath.
  • Coordinated a relief effort and delivered trailer loads of personal items, clothing, and food to the gulf coast.
  • Helped open and staff multiple shelters for evacuees to include a “Mega-Shelter” that housed 700 evacuees for over a month.
  • Attended to the emotional needs of evacuees, including the local family of HPD Sergeant Steve Perez who lost his life in the flood.

Downtown Austin Community Court

Works to improve the community’s quality of life and public order through effective and creative sentencing of misdemeanor offenders.
Community Court
  • DACC continued to assist with, and contribute to, the daily operation of the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) which was created in June 2016 in order to address the needs of a difficult-to-reach homeless population. HOST is a collaboration between the Austin Police Department (APD), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), DACC and Austin Travis County Integral Care (IC).  Outcomes expected [note: aren’t outcomes already verifiable since this is an ongoing program?] from HOST include reduced EMS transports, emergency room visits, and jail bookings. 
  • The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) continued its intensive case management (ICM) program and remained focused on rehabilitating and stabilizing DACC’s frequent/repeat offenders using an evidence-based model of wraparound interventions to address the multiple needs of chronically homeless offenders.  The ICM program continued to achieve a reduction in new offenses for offenders who actively participate in intensive case management. 
  • By way of its social service contracts DACC connected 15 clients to transitional housing, 179 clients to substance abuse treatment, 35 clients to an array of counseling services and 31 clients accessed our mat reservation program at Front Steps.  Since FY16, DACC has effectively managed its own direct social service contracts: eight contracts totaling more than $1.6 million.
  • DACC supported 47 ICM clients with over $58,000 of financial assistance used for housing application fees and first month’s rent deposits and utilities, to facilitate long-term stable housing, and provided over $36,000 of financial assistance to 22 clients through the ESG grant collaborative.
  • DACC’s Community Service Restitution (CSR) Unit serviced 17,828,186 square feet associated with work orders from Austin Resource Recovery, Austin Code, Austin Parks and Recreation, Austin Public Health and other City departments and community stakeholder requests. CSR Crew Leaders also collected 68.59 tons of trash on Austin streets, sidewalks, parks, greenbelts and many non-profit and stakeholder events throughout the year.  
  • DACC continued to maintain the Edgar Fincher III Program Garden as part of the Court’s CSR Program. Probationers, defendants and CSR Crew Leaders grew and maintained small food crops. In 2017, 222 pounds of vegetables were donated to social service and nonprofit agencies that provide meals for the homeless. Chickens became a part of the garden which allowed DACC to also donate fresh eggs to local social service providers and nonprofit agencies.
  • DACC filed and processed 6,482 citations and docketed 38,241 cases.

Homeland Security & Emergency Management

To serve as the coordinating focal point for preparedness, response, recovery, and education in any emergency or disaster that disrupts the community.
Plans and prepares for emergencies, educates the public about preparedness, develops volunteers, manages grant funding to improve homeland security and public safety capabilities, coordinates emergency response and recovery, promotes continuity of government and infrastructure resilience, supports planned events, and works with public and partner organizations to protect the whole community.
HSEM control room
  • Managed seven activations of the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (A-TCEOC) in addition to maintaining a 24/7 readiness posture in response to several hazardous weather activations, special events, and dignitary visits.
  • Managed Citywide cost recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey sheltering and Public Assistance for storm response during the event. Provided cost recovery support to departments who sent mutual aid resources to affected jurisdictions. Combined estimate: $5 million.
  • Continued recovery processes for the Halloween 2013, Memorial Day and Halloween 2015 floods, with an expected total estimated Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement of $24.4 million.
  • Coordinated sheltering efforts and mid- to long-term care of nearly 1,000 individuals impacted by Hurricane Harvey. 
  • Continued the campaign, which resulted in about 30,000 new registrations to receive emergency notifications in the Austin-Travis County area.
Awarded re-accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) which accredits emergency management programs based on industry best practices.

Office of the Medical Director

  • Conducted a national search to fill the Deputy Medical Director position, hiring Dr. Jason R. Pickett, MD, FACEP, FAEMS as Deputy Medical Director in August of 2017. Dr. Pickett is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and Subspecialty Board Certified in Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Conducted a quality assessment of our EMS System in relation to survival from sudden cardiac arrest. The results of our assessment led to a scientific poster presentation at two EMS conferences and the submission of a manuscript to a peer-reviewed national medical journal for publication.
  • Trained 590 citizens in the Take10 Hands Only CPR, further enhancing the ability of our community to provide this life-saving skill.
  • Provided EMS Physician emergency responses to 186 EMS incidents to provide direct care to patients as well as in-person mentoring and development to the EMS System providers.
  • Provided more than 100 hours of in-person, EMS Physician-led education to EMS System providers.