EMS Director: "Ambulance service is a burden for all"
50-50 shared between guests, residents
Moab Times Independent
Neither National Park Service nor Moab City have formally asked to deposit to help fund Grand County Emergency Medical Services, but the day will probably come.
Director Andy Smith said NPS did not pay for the rescue services his agency provides, although about 40 percent of his calls are for tourists, many of whom are injured or suffering from any other type of disease at Arches or Canyonland's national parks – or in transit to or from the parks. And until the Moab area became a tourist mecca that attracted about two million visitors a year, one did not have to worry about such things.
"EMS, traditionally, is not taxable," Smith said in an interview earlier this month. "It was true here too, until we got so busy we had to go full time."
Paying salaries and benefits to paramedics and EMTs had a negative impact on the bottom line of service, as volunteers serving society for generations were mostly discontinued. "The cost increased exponentially," Smith said. And while emergency medical services should be self-sustaining through revenue received in billing services, tourists set it up to $ 320,000 this year, which led to Grand County to set it up through a combination of transit tax, federal payments ii instead of tax revenue, mineral wage payments and other sources.
According to the NPS website, entry fees received national parks nearly 200 million dollars in 2016 – the last year available – which sounds like a lot of money, but the park earns more than $ 11 billion postponed for years after the 2008 financial downturn. So it can be a resistance to keeping EMS floating.
Grand County Council Vice President Curtis Wells said the city was "flushing" with money when he proposed the chip in funding for the service, but Smith said he is not sure the city is even with money. It's not to suggest that he thinks it should not help. "The idea of getting the city and NPS to help finance us is a conversation that has to be held. We all need to have the overall understanding that ambulance service is a burden on all … I think it must happen."
Coming from the busiest month in its history – 146 calls in September for an average of about five per day – Grand County EMS costs have increased 17 percent compared to last year, and neither the Smith or EMS board believes it will go back down when anytime soon.
In some of an anomaly, September responded to 75 non-locals and 55 locals among the conversation. Normally, the split is 60-40, with more locals needing help than tourists, but the figure is "crawling up to about 50-50", Smith said. More calls responded to non-locals than locals during four of the first nine months of 2018, April, May, June and September according to EMS documents.
"We can not continue on the current level," Smith said, and noted the recent rains that it was a delicious roof that got the roof to fall into the building that holds EMS. "These are also things that need to be resolved," he said.