New Castle Ambulance rides again
The New Castle Ambulance is officially back in business.
The Garfield County Commissioners renewed the service’s operations license on Monday.
The ambulance service’s nonprofit designation must be renewed annually by the Colorado Secretary of State. Renewal paperwork was filed last fall, but was apparently lost at the secretary of state’s office.
The ambulance service refiled the paperwork on Dec. 27, but the state had not returned the completed license by Jan. 21, when the county commissioners were set to renew to operations license.
The commissioners then refused to issue a temporary license, effectively putting the ambulance service out of business.
On Feb. 1, the county received written notice from the secretary of state that the nonprofit status of the ambulance service was reinstated. At that point, the county issued the ambulance a temporary license.
Failure to keep up with paperwork seems to be a pitfall of such small town ambulance services because they are volunteer organizations without the paid staff that can stay on top of such administrative chores.
Frank Breslin, former mayor of New Castle and volunteer for the ambulance service for 12 years, said paperwork fell through the cracks because volunteers simply didn’t have time for it.
“There are basically too many tasks to thrust on a few people,” he said.
But there are inherent problems with the New Castle ambulance service beyond the failure to keep up with paperwork, he said.
More serious is the lack of coordination with various local and state agencies at accident scenes, Breslin said.
“A lot of incidents occur where multiple agencies respond. It happens every day,” he said. An example is auto accidents on Interstate 70 to which local ambulance, fire and state patrol respond.
“There can be a lot of confusion about who is in control,” he said.
Continued training with the involved agencies can overcome this problem.
“The more centralized training, the less confusion. But we don’t do group training with other agencies,” he said. “There are just not enough hours in the day for all agencies to be constantly meeting. The communication system (between the ambulance and the other agencies) is still kind of primitive because we don’t have paid personnel. None of the (volunteer) agencies around here have that kind of personnel.”
One way to overcome this problem would be for the ambulance service to consolidate with the Burning Mountain Fire District, Breslin said. Consolidation was considered, but rejected, in 1999 and 2000.
“There was a lot of disagreement as to what would happen at budget time, whether people would prioritize more in favor of medical funding (for the ambulance) or more in favor of fire equipment funding. There was a lot of suspicion and disagreement about trusting a single board to prioritize what was handled in-house all these years,” Breslin said.
“My view of what was holding back consolidation is the fact that (the ambulance service) had been seriously individualistic for a lot of years. Times have changed now and there are standards being applied, standards of care.
“People are obligated to a level of training and professionalism” that cannot be achieved as a stand-alone volunteer ambulance service, Breslin said.
Ross Talbott, a long-time volunteer with the Burning Mountain Fire District, agrees with Breslin that the ambulance needs to be consolidated.
“It’s the only logical solution to have them under the taxing district so they don’t have to have barbecues and sell memberships. It would give them stability, and things like (having their license suspended) would not happen,” he said. “It certainly would enhance service.
“The ambulance (volunteers) are very defensive of what they do. It’s a control thing. But generally speaking the relations (with the fire district) have been good,” Talbott added.
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