Commissioners end Maybell EMS debate

— There's no assurance that people in the Maybell area will get an ambulance in case of an emergency as Maybell emergency services coordinator Karen Burley officially resigned Monday.

Burley was to be out of work March 31. The Moffat County Board of Commissioners decided to cut her position during last year's budget planning for 2004.

Burley was the only person on the seven-member volunteer staff of Maybell emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to receive a salary. She made more than $40,000 a year plus benefits.

Commissioners debated Monday how to proceed with the absence of an EMS coordinator to fulfill some of Burley's management duties and the loss of a daytime ambulance responder for Maybell and rural areas nearby. They decided to hold a workshop to solidify the transition, but declined on Monday to set a date for that meeting.

"The hardest part about stepping down is the thought that someone's going to need the ambulance and it's not going to be there," Burley said. "I'm disappointed that we think we need to shove off all the work on the Craig EMTs or Maybell's two volunteers."

Maybell has two steady daytime volunteers, but their schedules vary. More volunteers are available during the nighttime hours but the scenario makes some nervous that a daytime call for an ambulance could potentially go unanswered.

"It's not going to be the level of what's getting done," Burley said. "That's why I was so involved before. Someone had to take responsibility and understand the whole picture."

In 2002 and 2003, the Maybell Ambulance Service responded to 40 calls each year. In 2002 the daytime calls were 43 percent of the total call load and increased slightly to 46 percent in 2003, Burley said. In general, calls for ambulance service have increased since 1995 as residents in the rural population age and the area attracts more recreational use, she added.

Burley asked commissioners to consider hiring a part-time day responder for Maybell that would cover the most needed noon-to-5 p.m. shift.

Commissioners said those decisions would be discussed during the workshop.

Commissioners Marianna Raftopoulos and Les Hampton sympathized that the loss of Burley's position would "have a huge impact on the Maybell Ambulance Service."

Commissioner Darryl Steele insinuated during the meeting that coverage gaps could be filled by EMTs from The Memorial Hospital. Steele ran in late 2002 on the ticket that Burley's position needed to be cut to save county dollars.

Burley was hired on as EMS coordinator in mid-2002. She was an EMT volunteer and acting head of the Maybell Ambulance for more than a decade before landing the paid position.

Burley recently accepted a job offer outside of the Moffat County.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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