By CHRISTIN COYNE
The Parker County Hospital District recognized the service of PCDH director James “Jim” Austin, who died Friday at a Fort Worth hospital, during the commissioning Tuesday of a new LifeCare command and first response vehicle.
Austin, a retired Weatherford College professor and former hospital administrator who represented northwest Weatherford and Parker County on the board of directors since his election in 2008, was passionate about the hospital district, according to his family.
After he quit teaching, Austin volunteered his time in the position, according to his daughter, Emily Austin Tucker, who said Austin enjoyed going to hospital district meetings and often talked about what was going on with the district.
“It was one of his ways to give back,” Tucker said.
The district’s EMS services, as well as the district’s indigent care and outreach program, were Austin’s priorities during his service, according to PCHD CEO Randall Young.
“You could count on him to cut through the BS,” Young said.
LifeCare Director Paul Smith recalled Austin asking about the status of the new vehicle often in recent months.
The EMS vehicle arrived Monday, just days after his death.
The vehicle, an SUV equipped with a cot and other medical equipment, will allow paramedics to reach areas that are difficult to access with a traditional ambulance, such as during the recent ice storm or in undeveloped areas of the county, according to paramedics.
The vehicle will also allow a supervisor to ride along on calls and provide another set of hands during emergency calls.
To fill the vacancy left by Austin’s death, the board is expected to appoint a resident of Parker County Precinct 2 to the position until the next election.
Austin, who turned 66 in December, left behind two daughters and a son and their spouses, as well as 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Galbreaith Pickard Funeral Chapel.