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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.

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Chase Golightly


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