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Merged ambulance service serves Silt, New Castle

Nonprofit SpotlightKay VasilakisGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Who are you going to call when you have emergency medical needs? For $50 per year, any household in the West Care Ambulance response area may purchase an ambulance subscription.West Care Ambulance is a nonprofit, non-tax-based enterprise fund administered by the town of Silt. Silt Ambulance and the New Castle Ambulance Service joined together when Silt Ambulance offered to merge resources and form one ambulance service, helping to give both towns better access to advanced life support. A large portion of its volunteers live and respond from the New Castle area, taking 1,000 calls for service each year.The ambulance service faces two large challenges: finding enough people who are trained in advanced life support to be able to handle call volume, and financial reimbursement. A large portion of its patients have no medical insurance, and many more have Medicare or Medicaid, which reimburse very poorly for ambulance transports.The service transports 911 patients to both Grand River and Valley View hospitals. West Care Ambulance is the only ambulance service in Garfield County that provides transport from the hospitals to other facilities, whether this means taking a critical patient to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Denver hospitals, or to a nursing home or extended care facility elsewhere in Colorado.

West Care Ambulance currently has two full-time paramedics, one full-time EMT-intermediate, two full-time EMT-basics, and 13 part-time employees and volunteers. The volunteers range from drivers/first responders to registered nurses. These volunteers do get paid for their time on runs, and receive a minimal stipend for being “on call,” responding to 911 calls from their homes.Interested volunteers may talk to Susan Taylor, EMS director. Potential volunteer drivers need CPR training and pass a criminal history/background and driving record check. After that, additional training in ambulance operations and driving is required. Persons wishing to volunteer as an EMT must bring in their Colorado EMT Certificate and ride along on calls so their skills can be checked.”I can only speak for myself, because I think it is different for everyone,” said Aaron Taylor, West Care Ambulance volunteer. “I have to admit, I am an adrenaline junkie, and that got me started in EMS. After a while though, my reasons for staying changed. I like to be able to help people, whether it’s directly helping a patient, or helping the family and friends through a crisis. That is what gets me up at 2 a.m. when the pager goes off, and the adrenaline rush is just a bonus.”

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday. She is the Garfield County Human Services media coordinator. To contact her, call 384-9118 or e-mail kvasilakis@postindependent.com.


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