October 2019

Robert D. Greenberg, MD, FACEP
Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council (GETAC)

What is GETAC and Why Should You Care?

The Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council (GETAC) http://www.dshs.texas.gov/emstraumasystems/governor.shtm, was created in1999 by the Texas Legislature as a 15-member Council “to advise the department regarding matters related to the responsibilities of the executive commissioner, commissioner, and department” in Chapter 773, Emergency Medical Services, of the Health and Safety Code. https://www.dshs.texas.gov/emstraumasystems/H-SC773intro.shtm

In brief, GETAC is charged to assess the need for emergency medical services and trauma care systems in Texas and develop strategic plans for the same. The Council meets at least quarterly in Austin and appoints committees to assist in executing its charge. A Stroke Committee is mandated by statute. Between the Council and committees, approximately 125 volunteers participate in the 3-day GETAC quarterly meetings. All meetings are open to the public.

Chapter 773.012 details the composition and charge of the Council. It has recently been expanded to 19 appointees and each represents a different stakeholder group in the EMS and trauma system with one-half intended to be from rural areas. Appointees represent the People of Texas who elected the Governor who has made the appointment. They bring the prospective of individuals in their specific specialty to the table, but it should be for the betterment of Texas, not their association. I am the emergency physician appointee to the Council and have been also been named by the Governor as the presiding officer.

Within the strategic planning process, GETAC has created a vision and a mission for the Texas Emergency Healthcare System that are read at each committee and Council meeting to remind us of our focus;

GETAC Vision:
A unified, comprehensive, and effective Emergency Healthcare System.

GETAC Mission:
To promote, develop, and advance an accountable, patient-centered Trauma and Emergency Healthcare System.

As the current chair of the Council it is my job to assure the meetings run smoothly; progress is made at and between meetings and the work-product of the Council is realistic, accessible and actionable. It sometimes seems like the process is painfully slow, except when it seems like we are moving too quickly. We have been accused of not being inclusive and also of being too focused on consensus. I believe it is called change and the only thing worse than change is stagnation.

I also worry about “mission creep.” When you have so many motivated and talented people working together, we can begin to reach beyond our charge and legislative responsibilities. It is a delicate balance and an ongoing challenge. It is also fun and rewarding.

So, what does this really mean and why does it matter to you? We have and will continue to accomplish many great things that benefit Texas. When you are frustrated with something in our system and you ask yourself “why do THEY do that” maybe what you should be thinking is “why don’t I do this” and help shape the future of our emergency healthcare system. Become involved, if we do not do this FOR ourselves, our patients and our communities, someone else will do it TO us. This is a noble endeavor and I invite you to serve with us.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, suggestions or concerns. I am here to serve and represent you and most importantly our patients and citizens.

Robert D. Greenberg, MD, FACEP
Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council (GETAC)