CYPRESS CREEK EMS RESPONDS
Cypress Creek EMS has nothing to hide. We have simply disagreed on what is subject to the Open Records Law. We have released hundreds of requested document pages, but we drew the line at releasing the names, positions, salaries and benefits of our employees.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Attorney General did take action over our refusal to release that private information. Our critics claim the Open Records law includes that. We say it does not. Here is why. CCEMS is not a government entity or a taxing authority. Cypress Creek EMS was founded 41 years ago as a non-profit corporation and it remains so today. Therefore, our employees are entitled to privacy like anyone who works for a private corporation.
RECENT RULINGS IN OUR FAVOR
Recently, the Texas Attorney General agreed with our position that non-profits are not subject to the open records law. That decision was upheld by a Travis County District Court. Read the court judgment here.
While the case slowly worked its way through the legal system, CCEMS released a full list of salaries by position to ESD 11. That provided the information the ESD requested, without violating employee privacy.
YEAH, BUT DON’T YOU RECEIVE TAX DOLLARS?
This was considered by the Attorney General and Travis County District Court. CCEMS receives tax dollars from ESD#11 to provide a service, in much the same way that TxDot contracts with construction companies to build roads. Do you really think those construction companies would have to provide private employee information? And if they did, wouldn’t it put them at a bidding disadvantage if their competition could simply request that information with an open records request.
Our relationship with ESD #11 is that of a contractor chosen to provide EMS service for our area and once our contract expires we will, once again, compete with private ambulance companies to continue as the designated 9-1-1 EMS provider for ESD # 11. If that ever happens, EMS care will decline and that private company won’t have to release anything under the Open Records law, meaning there will be NO transparency. Remember, we have released hundreds of requested pages and we post all audits openly on our website for all to see.
INVESTIGATIONS OF CCEMS
Over the years, critics have filed anonymous complaints leading to investigations by the EEOC, Wage and Hour, IRS, Medicare, Medicaid and twice by the Texas Ethics Commission. We passed all of those with flying colors. If something was wrong, don’t you think one or more of those agencies would find it?
SQUEAKY CLEAN AUDITS
Harris County Emergency Services District (ESD) #11 has audited CCEMS several times including a top to bottom operational audit of Cypress Creek EMS by the highly respected McGrath Consulting Group.
Here’s how that audit described the outcome of the investigations: “CCEMS was found non-discriminatory, compliant, and without violations by all of these agencies.”
The report also mentioned CCEMS critics saying, “Common to any individual who has years of tenure at the top executive position, there will be individuals who disagree or even dislike his/her decisions and/or the individual.”
“Overall, the CCEMS members, CCEMS Board of Directors, and the majority of the ESD-11 Board spoke very highly of the Executive Director. Complaints heard were from a very small percentage of interviewers, which included members of the ESD-11 Board. Few of the past or current employees who expressed dissatisfaction with either CCEMS or the Executive Director had recommendations for improvements; whereas some just wished to express their personal dissatisfaction/dislikes.”
The final report from McGrath says, “The overall analysis of the organization reinforces that it is a premier organization offering highly skilled emergency medical services.” Read the entire report.
In another audit commissioned by ESD # 11 on how tax dollars are used, the auditor reported that each and every line item was inspected and that in every case the firm was satisfied with the results. In other words, all tax dollars were spent properly and all were accounted for. Click here to read the report to the commissioners from the February 2015 Minutes. See ESD 11 map here.
As you will learn from reading these audits, CCEMS has been extremely transparent. Our detractors have not. They have filed anonymous complaints that have led to numerous investigations. A former TV reporter turned consultant was even hired to investigate CCEMS. Ironically, he calls for transparency while refusing to reveal who hired him, how much he is being paid and why.
SOME CCEMS ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- First STEMI (Heart Attack) program in the area, which allows Paramedics to bypass the Emergency Room and take the patient straight to the Heart Cath Lab.
- First-in-the-country use of the Lucas Device, which automates CPR and saves more lives.
- Recognized by Methodist Willowbrook for Best Heart Attack and Stroke response, 2 years in a row.
- Named National EMS System of the year.
- Named Best EMS in Texas twice.
- Named as having the Best Medical Director in Texas twice.
- CCEMS is the ONLY American Heart Association Gold Award winner for Heart Attack care on the Entire Texas Gulf Coast.
ABOUT EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICTS
Emergency Service Districts were approved by the legislature in 2003. Locally, voters approved the formation of ESD#11 in May 2004. Before that, Cypress Creek EMS supported itself through donations, fundraisers, and fees for service. Today, funding from ESD#11 tax dollars makes up about 51% of our budget. The other 49% is raised by CCEMS through fundraising, ambulance fees, tuition from students in our education center and fees from 15 emergency agencies for which we handle 9-1-1 and dispatch. So, CCEMS is paying nearly half of what it costs to provide you the best EMS care in the Greater Houston area. And, if you live in north Harris County we probably dispatch your fire department, as well.
CCEMS has been extremely transparent, releasing all requested records except for those that would violate our employees’ privacy. The real lack of transparency comes from our detractors who request investigations anonymously and from a certain former TV reporter turned consultant who refuses to reveal who’s paying him and why. Could it be an attempt to take over CCEMS or replace it with a private ambulance service which cannot match the standard of care established by CCEMS? That’s the real question that needs to be answered.