Ambulance operations expand to Copper
Summit Daily News
Through an inter-governmental agreement between Summit County and the Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District, the Summit County Ambulance Service has been successfully operating a seasonal advanced life support ambulance out of the new Copper Mountain Fire Station. The service – the result of two years worth of discussion – started this winter and will continue to operate during peak periods. The new ambulance station joins existing bases in Frisco, Dillon, Breckenridge and Keystone.
“This is a good example of local governments being able to work together to meet a community need,” said Dave Erickson, metro district manager. “The metro district has worked with SCAS and Summit County for more than two years to explore the possibility of enhancing ambulance services at Copper Mountain. Ultimately, SCAS made a proposal to stage an ambulance response unit out of Copper Mountain during peak activity periods. It was a proposal that the district board and the community welcomed and embraced.”
The new fire station opened in January of 2010 and had an ambulance quarters and office built into the design.
“They had us in mind,” said Marc Burdick, ambulance service director. “We are very excited to expand our base of operations to the Copper Mountain Fire Station as this improves our services both in the Copper area and county-wide. We’ve been able to provide a more prompt service to the community.”
The Copper ambulance is staffed with two people – at least one of whom is a critical care paramedic – for 12 hours a day. Burdick said emergency services averages about 75 911 calls per year from Copper Village, with about 60 of those occurring during the ski season.
Erickson said he’s pleased with the new service, which has been critical in reducing emergency response times. Before, if crews were responding out of Frisco, it might take 15-20 minutes to get to Copper. If an ambulance was coming from somewhere else, the time frame was even longer. Erickson expected response time to a cardiac problem should be less than five minutes.
“There’s 10,000 to 15,000 people up here sometimes,” Erickson said. “There’s a lot of activity in points in time.”
“We’ve definitely had shorter response times to some key calls that have occurred this winter,” Burdick said.
About a month ago, Burdick said an 18-year-old woman collapsed in a Copper parking lot with a pulmonary embolism.
“She had a time-sensitive medical problem,” he said. “We were on-scene within five minutes, transporting her to Frisco. She had a very critical problem, but she survived.”
Burdick said emergency services has no plan to make the Copper ambulance unit a year-round deployment, because call volume does not currently dictate it. He said ambulance coverage is based on anticipated demand, and funded through patient billing. He said full-time deployment would likely require more direct public support through tax or sales revenues.
“Summit County Ambulance is a entirely fee-funded service, and does not currently use any direct public support such as property or sales taxes, and so our operations and budget are kept in alignment with revenues from patient billing,” Burdick said. “In terms of Copper, we analyzed the last five years of ambulance demand in the Copper area, and worked within our budget realities, to come to deploy a winter seasonal 12-hour ambulance in Copper with some peak weekends and special events during the summer. This will be the plan next ski season as well.”
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