After weeks of uncertainty about its future, the Custer County Ambulance Corps and its dedicated staff of responders have been taken off life support – at least temporarily.
Last Thursday, the board of directors of the West Custer County Hospital District agreed to a short-term solution which will pay the Emergency Medical Service workers to be on stand-by during the critical hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., while maintaining a stand-by status during the evening/nighttime hours.
The Hospital District was caught off guard in December, when Colorado labor officials said the district had been improperly paying EMS workers as contract laborers. To solve the matter, the district will pay some $38,000 in back wages and payroll taxes.
This administrative misstep threw the county’s ambulance service into a tailspin which threatened its very existence. The Hospital District sought help from a very unsympathetic board of county commissioners, and from a very skeptical Fire Protection District.
A joint operation between the Hospital District and Fire District appears to be the cleanest and most logical solution to the ambulance issue. At least some of the Fire District board has expressed skepticism. But we trust that facts and the district’s ultimate responsibility to the community’s health and safety will provide the impetus to move ahead for the betterment of our citizens.
In the meantime, the Hospital District board followed through with their commitment to ensure the retention of ambulance services in our county, and they deserve thanks for responding as quickly as possible to this important issue.