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Ambulance Dispute Could Impact Those Who Need Emergency Service

By Matt Kroschel

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – An ugly dispute between an EMS provider and Summit County is locked in a stalemate.

ambulances Ambulance Dispute Could Impact Those Who Need Emergency Service

(credit: CBS)

Last month, Summit county leaders threatened to revoke the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District’s authority to run ambulances unless the fire service agreed to contribute more to countywide services, namely out-of-county patient transports.

If negotiations don’t resume, later this summer, RWB paramedics could provide on-scene emergency care, but patients would have to wait for a county-approved ambulance to arrive before being transported — even if an RWB ambulance arrived first.

“At every corner we’ve turned, it’s been about money with them, and it’s always been about how much do we get pulled into the system,” RWB fire chief Jim Keating told CBS4 Monday.

Summit County Assistant Manager Sarah Vaine says it’s not about money, it’s about “providing the entire county the best EMS service possible.”

RWB argues they can’t take on more out-of-county transports to Denver — something the county is demanding they do — because it will leave their small staff short handed for several hours per trip.

Unlike Copper Mountain Fire, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue and the county ambulance service, RWB doesn’t participate in the countywide rotation for Denver transports.

In 60 days without a new agreement reached, RWB will only be allowed to transport a patient if their life is in immediate danger. Otherwise they will have to call for another county ambulance to make the transport.

The debate has drawn local outrage from the community. The local newspaper editorial board implored both sides to go back to the table to work out a deal.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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