Our View: Ambulances needed


August 15, 2019

The thought of not having an ambulance service in Sweetwater County is something we cannot even fathom.

We believe if it’s a situation requiring emergency assistance, an ambulance had better be there.

At a recent Sweetwater County commissioner’s meeting, Commissioner Jeffery Smith said he wanted the press to help him inform the public about the financial problems both Castle Rock Ambulance Service and Sweetwater Medics are having. According to Smith, Castle Rock is losing about $35,000 per month, while Sweetwater Medics has received about $1.2 million in subsidized funding to ensure employees are paid.

We feel stakeholders must work together to find something that can be sustained and reliable.

While Smith isn’t convinced any of the three options a special committee has come up will work, we feel there may be other possible solutions that might not have been thought about yet.

Those three options are having Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County take it over, creating a special tax district to fund the ambulance service or having the county create a new department to oversee the ambulance service.

We wonder if the ambulance service couldn’t be joined with the fire department or operate similar to the Green River Fire Department.

Currently, the fire department has three full-time employees, but they respond to calls with the help of 37 volunteer firefighters who are paid per call, according to assistant chief Bill Robinson at the Green River Fire Department.

Everything else the volunteer firefighters do for the department is volunteer only.

Is this something that would work for the ambulance service? We know the negative would be not have full-time EMTs working, which would decrease the job market for those in the profession and some may even leave the area to work for another ambulance service. However, there would still be a need for EMTs on a volunteer basis. This is just an idea, but it’s one we haven’t heard discussed and thought it might be worth a mention.

Robert Gordon, Castle Rock Hospital District Board chairman, said the ambulance service was once ran by volunteers, but that was a long time ago and he’s not sure how that worked. He said the reason they switched to full-time and on-call employees was to have better response times to calls.

Smith said having a national company provide the ambulance services could also be a solution, however they would decide where to take the patient, which means they may take the patient all the way to Salt Lake City even if that patient would have received just as good of care at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

Plus, with national companies, they decide if someone should be flown or taken by ambulance. In order for them to make a profit, they are more likely to fly because they can charge more. We have already heard how astronomically priced emergency medical flights to SLC are and we can’t imagine them getting even more expensive.

With all of these things to consider, we believe if it’s important enough to the residents of Sweetwater County to have, we’ll find a way to make it happen.


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