Emergency medical service in Western Moffat County should be a priority county's 2004 budget

To the Editor:

After reading Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakely's letter of Jan. 1, I must add my voice to the appeal for the Emergency Medical Service position in the western portion of Moffat County. Mayor Blakely states the real cost to Moffat County is about $20,000 per year. He clearly demonstrates the importance of this position from a leadership role within his community.

We are aware the majority of the EMS trained people reside in the eastern portion of the county. Of course, that is where the population resides. The actual numbers of responders is difficult to determine as one or several may be employed at the generating station or a coal mine and be registered on the fire department as well. But it is my belief that about 70 responders live and work in the eastern portion of the county. This includes the paid or compensated positions of the Noyes Clinic in Baggs, Wyo., The Memorial Hospital, Craig Fire/Rescue, Tri-State, Trapper Mine and Colowyo. In the western part of the county, we have one paid and 11 volunteer responders.

Let's look at the distribution of these responders. Moffat County is the second largest county in the state covering an area of about 4,700 square miles. If we say that the eastern portion of the county covers an area north to south 25 miles west of the county line that is an area of about 1,200 square miles. This equates to one responder per 17 square miles. That leaves 3,500 square miles to be covered by the remaining 12, or one responder per 290 square miles. Now I recognize that under the best of circumstances this ratio won't change or at least change much. But we must protect what we have.

With the east to west travel along Highway 40, the thousand-plus miles of county roads, the number of visitors to Browns Park, visitors traveling to remote areas within the monument, the vast number of hunters that visit each year, recreation areas like the Sand Wash, and the tax-paying residents who live outside of Craig, how can we even think of jeopardizing this vital health and human service need?

I know that this makes sense. Please find a way to continue funding this position. This is not an expense to Moffat County. This is an investment in the health and welfare of her residents and guests.

Sincerely,

Dawn Nottingham,

Moffat County

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