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Penrose EMS suspending ambulance services beginning July 4

PENROSE, Colo. (KRDO) -- Beginning July 4, Penrose Emergency Medical Services will be suspending ambulance services for the foreseeable future.

For the small Fremont County community, that means ambulances will no longer be available to take people to a hospital or provide critical first aid at a scene.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Penrose Fire alerted the community of the impending suspension of services. Penrose Fire said the decision was made because EMS simply doesn't have enough staff to run the service anymore.

County Commissioner Debbie Bell said this was a difficult decision, but it wasn't completely out of the blue.

"A lot of these smaller communities depend on volunteers to be able to run the emergency medical services and that's getting harder and harder as time goes on."

PFD said there's been a nationwide decline in volunteers, but an increase in call volume. Additionally, officials say federal and state standards have increased the demands needed to receive and maintain the appropriate certifications to provide medical services, especially in a volunteer organization.

Following the national trends, Penrose has seen an uptick in calls for service, but officials say providing care just isn't possible right now.

For the town of roughly 3,000, community members say they're concerned and scared at the idea of ambulances no longer being an option.

Lori Pike has lived in Penrose for 20 years. Pike said she understands just how important emergency services are to a small town that might not have access to other options of immediate aid.

She explained Penrose EMT saved her sons life years ago when he stopped breathing.

"They were actually there very quickly and was able to get him to the hospital and he's here now," said Pike. "If we didn't have that ambulance service I don't know what we would have done."

While Penrose might be the only one being forced to make a tough decision right now, officials say a lack of volunteer services and other resources is happening throughout Colorado.

Bell said Fremont County doesn't have the authority to step in with a fix, but the county is working with local leaders to figure out a plan. As of now, there isn't a clear answer.

"It's something we have been talking about for a long time and unfortunately we haven't found a solution to it yet," said Bell.

Bell did discuss some possible, including having another agency come in or create a special EMS district with paid staff. However, that would have to go to a vote since it would require a property tax increase.

PFD says if anyone in the community has or knows someone with an EMT certification or higher who is willing to volunteer with them, they'll consider keeping ambulances running.

Regardless, officials are telling residents if they have a medical emergency they should still call 9-1-1. But chances are, there won't be an ambulance to save you.

Read the full post below:

Fremont County / Health / Health / Local News / Reporter Stories / Video

Chase Golightly

Chase is a reporter and an anchor for our weekend evening newscasts. Learn more about Chase here.

Comments

7 Comments

  1. The services of many volunteers aren’t fully appreciated until they stop volunteering. Now the people of Penrose will have to pay one way or another. And unfortunately it may cost lives before it gets fixed. These days, everyone needs immediate access to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service, which can save lives by starting critical treatment of patients before they get to a hospital. There is no substitute for a good ambulance service.

  2. It’s a crazy world when we value sports celebrities, actors and actresses, politicians, and CEO’s higher than we do our first responders.

  3. I don’t know if this applies to their situation but many years ago I volunteered. They then started putting additional requirements and minimum volunteer time to stay a volunteer. It almost became a second job. When they upped the requirements again I resigned and so did 6 others. You just can’t keep up with it and try to have a family and a job to pay the bills.

    1. I’ve seen the same thing. People seem to forget the meaning of volunteer. Good managers of volunteers should be able to make good use of the skills and time of those available without imposing unreasonable expectations.

  4. Sowhat he is saying is they cant find volunteers… fair enough but with the rising cost of living in the U.S. that is absolutely NO SURPRISE…people are trying to make ends meet not give away their time…..in other words PAY THEM……or dont and lose your ems services so your residents don’t have access to care…yeah that’ll do it!!! who thinks up this garbage?

    1. It takes a lot to go from an all-volunteer organization to a partially paid one. The overheads involved are horrendous, and so the extra taxes involved for the residents are prohibitive for many of them. Yes, it can make a difference between having life-saving services or not, but you’d probably find that many of those residents just can’t afford the “luxury” of paid EMS services, which is why they live where they do.

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