District health opponents are working on a new long-term plan to maintain EMS

One of the Memorial Regional Hospital ambulances sits in its garage near the hospital.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

The opponents said from the start that it wasn’t just saying no.

November 2, the main drivers between the campaign against the proposed health district, a measure that would have created a special taxation of the district funding and the administration of the district ambulance, but failed on the vote, triumphed. But the group calling itself Citizens Against 6A and 6B (in terms of the title of the measure on the ballot) insisted throughout the opposition campaign on finding a better solution – and not just trying to get the one kill whom they considered untenable.

Monday this group says they will keep this promise.

Moffat County’s commissioners will have a workshop with Karen Burley, Darryl Steele, T. Wright Dickinson, and Dan Bingham on Monday at 3:30 p.m. to explore possible avenues to create county, county-funded and county-level emergency services.

“We’ve been saying all along that if we could defeat the Health Services District, now that we know there are big problems with EMS, we wouldn’t just cut off and run,” Burley said on the phone on Wednesday. “Let’s see how we are maintaining EMS in Moffat County.”

The main impetus for the HSD was Memorial Regional Health’s statement that long-term financial support for the emergency medical services the hospital operates is unsustainable in its current form. A task force was formed to find another solution, and this led to the Special Tax District proposal that would have increased property taxes and created an elected board for the county ambulance service.

The proposal included taking over the Craig-based ambulance from the hospital, providing support and management from Maybell Ambulance, and installing an ambulance in Dinosaur currently serving for emergency services from Vernal, Utah. When it failed earlier this month, there were concerns that the hospital might decide to cut services to part-time or worse, and Dinosaur was left unattended by an ambulance or rescue workers.

Burley said Wednesday that while her group helped thwart a proposal that could have eliminated those dangers, it would not ignore the real problems that were exposed in the process.

“We did research in Colorado and other counties to see how a county-funded and managed EMS system might work,” said Burley. “For such a geographically large district, but with such a small population, we don’t have to get too extravagant. But we want to meet the commissioners to discuss this issue and we want the meeting to be open to the public so everyone can hear our vision. “

Citizens Opposed had alleged a lack of transparency in their allegations of inappropriateness made in connection with the campaign for the electoral measure. On Wednesday, Burley said the group wanted to prove that it was a genuine concern.

“All of our meetings will be open,” said Burley. “No closed sessions. We don’t believe in that. That was one of our biggest complaints about the health district, and it’s not a short-sighted focus. We’re trying to build the Moffat County community. “

Burley said the detailed plans or proposals at this point are skimpy – on purpose. She said the intent is to involve the community at every step of the process.

However, they envisioned a model in which the county itself, led by the commissioners, would be responsible for all aspects of a nationwide EMS program.

“Commissioners can appoint an advisory board, much like the hospital, and its decisions are made by the county commissioners,” said Burley. “That is your job. You have the authority to lead EMS. If they had to do something about taxes, not that we’d be looking for it, but they can do it with a special mill levy that goes to the electorate because of (the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights). We want this to happen through the district – that makes it easier. “

Burley did not yet have figures on the costs or plans for the funding, but said her group wanted these talks to begin in public.

“We are at the very beginning,” she said. “We want input, we have not narrowed anything down. Let’s include all five of the county’s regions – Hamilton, Brown’s Park. What happens to the little snake? All of this is important. The goal is to let the public know that there is another idea out there. “

The campaign has been competitive and uncomfortable at times, but Burley said the cause of both sides is essentially the same. Burley, Dickinson, Steele and Bingham come together with decades of ambulance and administration experience to champion a new, as-yet-detailed plan to keep the county ambulance going.

“We’ll start with what we said, what we would do,” said Burley. “This is fulfilling the commitment we made when we talked about not wanting a health district. We thought it was irresponsible to advertise something and then just walk away. EMS is important to us all. “

The Craig Press confirmed that Craig EMS representatives and former members of the losing district’s proposed board of directors have been invited to the meeting, which will be held in the Boards of County Commission chambers and on Zoom.

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