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Commissioners Seek to Resolve west Fremont Ambulance Dispute

A dispute among ambulance providers in western Fremont County that lingered in the courts the last two years took center stage before the Fremont County Commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.   Ambulances from both Deer Mountain Fire District and Arkansas Valley Ambulance (AVA) have been jointly dispatched to the same calls over the past five months after the two agencies could not settle their territorial differences.   That resulted in ambulances racing to calls thereby jeopardizing patients and crews.

Following a 2 ½ hour public hearing on whether to amend, suspend, or revoke the licenses for both agencies the Board of Commissioners sought to strike a compromise.   The commissioners voted to adopted a map proposed by Deer Mountain that would have the Deer Mountain ambulance respond to all calls within its’ district along with everything north of Cotopaxi off of County Road 12 and everything east into the Texas Creek area.    After listening to officials from AVA describe their struggles to recover financially, Commission Chairman Ed Norden said the boundaries will allow time for AVA to rebuild their operation, recover financially, and train more EMT’s to respond to calls.   Norden said if AVA is able to train more EMT’s to raise their level of service from Basic Life Support (BLS) to Advanced Life Support (ALS) then AVA could make a pitch at license renewal time next April to adjust the boundaries.

The boundaries that were adopted basically gives AVA a service area through the Howard and Coaldale areas to the western edge of the Deer Mountain Fire District.   Norden said after hearing from so many Howard and Coaldale residents that they did want Jay DeMay answering their calls for an ambulance the boundaries set out by the commissioners will assure them that AVA will respond to their calls.    DeMay formerly operated with AVA and was a former board member who now serves with Deer Mountain as Assistant Fire Chief.

As part of the motion to adopt designated response areas the commissioners also stated that it comes with the expectation that Deer Mountain will continue to staff their Cotopaxi location with medical personnel every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; that both AVA and Deer Mountain notify dispatch if they are out of service or report whether they are responding as BLS or ALS; that AVA come current on delinquent bills for dispatching fees, a license fee, and medical director’s fees; and that if AVA seeks to secure another medical director that they provide notice to the Board of Commissioners as well as written authorization from a new medical director.

Commissioner Norden said that given the decades of challenges to operate ambulance service in western Fremont County he is glad to finally hear that part of the discussion taking place in the Howard and Coaldale area is pursuit of a long range solution through creation of a taxpayer supported ambulance district.   District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell concluded by making it clear that “professionalism amongst every single one of you, every single minute, of every single day” is the expectation of the Board of Commissioners.

Also at the marathon commissioners’ meeting the Board issued its’ findings in adopting a resolution denying a modification of premises for Today’s Health Care which operates a medical marijuana facility at 934 ‘C’ Street in Penrose.   Total Health Care sought to add another five greenhouses to their existing three greenhouse cultivation.   Among the findings adopted in the resolution, the Board found that the applicant’s claim that they do not plan to increase the number of plants being grown was not credible.   The Board also found that while the applicant claimed the five new greenhouses would employ the latest odor control technology, they in fact would rely on the same odor control system now in place.

In other business Tuesday the commissioners:

  • Approved a Special Events Liquor License for Equine Lameness Prevention Inc. which would operate a beer garden at the Penrose Park on Apple Day October 1st on behalf of the Penrose Park and Recreation District;
  • Re-appointed Marvin Dornhecker as an alternate to the county Board of Building Code Appeals for another three-year term;
  • Approved a 12-month extension for submittal of contingency items for the Mountaindale Campground zone change;
  • Approved another minor language change to a paragraph in the intergovernmental agreement for the Combined Regional Dispatch Center dealing with repayment of funds to Fremont County for money spent to build and equip the center.