Struggling to be sustained, EMS becomes special district
by Rose Egelhoff
The Times-Independent
Dec 21, 2017 | 1177 views | 0 0 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Grand County Council approved the creation of an emergency medical services (EMS) special service district in a unanimous 5-0 vote on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

The county’s legal team reviewed and cleared the change, Grand County Council Administrator Ruth Dillon said.

“This is simply the final step ... of creating this district,” said EMS Director Andy Smith.

On Oct. 17, Smith presented the idea of creating a special service district for the oversight and management of Grand County EMS to the county.

“The biggest benefit I think is engaging a single focused governing body … that can be really invested and help plan for the future,” Smith said.

In 2016, an outside assessment agency concluded that — as it operates today — EMS “is not sustainable.” That agency recommended finding “the best and most appropriate ‘home’” for the service, which is currently housed as a department within county government.

Shortly after the assessment, a local stakeholder committee made up of EMS administrators, county council members and local health care representatives discussed a myriad of options, ultimately landing on the creation of a special service district focused on EMS.

Grand County EMS has a high volume of calls on par with some of the state’s busiest urban areas, Smith said in the Oct. 17 presentation, but the department’s staffing level has remained the same at 30 employees. Internal documents described EMS as “overburdened and understaffed.”

“Long term, a district just makes more sense for a department that’s as specialized as ours,” Smith added.

There will be a public hearing on the establishment of an EMS special service district at a future date.

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