Austin Ambulance Breakdowns Rising

Ambulances responding to emergencies in Austin, Texas, regularly encounter mechanical failures that prevent them from reaching patients or even from departing an EMS station on a call.

In an industry in which speed and reliability are crucial barometers of emergency medical response, such breakdowns are surprisingly common among the fleet of Austin-Travis County EMS ambulances.

The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV report an ambulance breakdown interferes with an emergency response at least once every three days, on average.

While many EMS systems don’t track their number of “critical failures,” Austin’s breakdown rate eclipses that of several similarly sized cities. The number of critical failures spiked significantly in 2012 and 2013.

EMS officials say that while they’re concerned about the frequency of breakdowns, the failures don’t jeopardize patient health.