Summit Fire & EMS to lay off 13 part-time employees |

Summit Fire & EMS to lay off 13 part-time employees

A Summit Fire & EMS ambulance is pictured March 13. Summit Fire & EMS is shutting down its PRN program at the end of March and laying off 13 part-time employees.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

Summit Fire & EMS will be ending its PRN program and letting go of part-time medical personnel in an attempt to streamline operations and efficiency within the district, according to the agency’s spokesperson Steve Lipsher.

The PRN program — an abbreviation for “pro re nata,” or “when necessary” — served to provide additional staffing options for ambulances in the district to account for sick or vacationing employees as well as surge staffing for holiday weekends. The program came over more than a year ago as part of Summit Fire’s consolidation with the former Summit County Ambulance Service, but Lipsher said cross-staffing of ambulances with fire-medics and changing business models have considerably diminished the district’s need for the program.

“We have treasured their work and their contributions, and every one of these medics and EMTs are all really highly polished, highly qualified professionals and have done a great job,” Lipsher said. “This is not any type of reflection on that program. … It’s just an evaluation of needs. Over the last couple of years, as we’ve merged with the Summit County Ambulance Service in particular, our organization has become flexible enough with cross-trained fire-medics, who could work on either a fire engine or an ambulance, that we found ourselves in the position of being able to cover these really occasional shifts that the PRNs have been doing.”

Summit Fire officially will end the program March 31, and a total of 13 part-time employees will be let go.

Lipsher said PRN employees have been working only “sporadically” of late and that the program slowly had begun to dwindle in participation. The district has about 100 full-time employees, up from about 95 at the time of the merger. In that time, Lipsher said the number of PRN employees has dropped from about 39 to 13. The district staffs 28 full-time employees who are medics, fire-medics or dedicated EMTs.

“We have been steadily declining, and that’s directly related to the demand,” Lipsher said. “The fact is that we just don’t have the spot assignments that Summit County Ambulance used to have.”

In addition to cross-training firefighters to staff ambulances — something Lipsher said the district has been working on for at least three years in anticipation of the merger — he noted that changes to out-of-county transports also played a role. The former ambulance service used to frequently take patients from St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco to other hospitals on the Front Range. Summit County has since entered into a contract with Stadium Medical to provide interfacility transports.

Lipsher said the elimination of the PRN program wouldn’t have any impact on the district’s operations in the community.

“This was part of our realignment and our ability to provide our services without bringing on additional staffers,” Lipsher said. “… I think the public should be reassured that we — as a robust, healthy organization — are in a position where we’re providing top-level, all-hazards emergency services with full-time, highly trained, well-equipped emergency responders.”

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