Austin-Travis County EMS revised its job application by removing a disqualification for prior marijuana use in hopes of increasing applicants as they struggle to fill positions.
Saving lives isn't an easy job. The president of the Austin EMS union, Selena Xie, said doing it short-staffed is even harder. "It's really bad right now," said Xie. "We're about 80 paramedics down."
After partnering with Texas Norml, putting together a petition and sending thousands of letters to the Austin City Council and EMS Interim Chief Jasper Brown, Xie said the City gave them the green light in late October to change the policy.
She said the old policy was deterring out-of-state applicants where marijuana use is legal.
"We didn't want Texans and people from all over this country to be not allowed to work for our department because of legal use," said Xie.