Officials from Dinosaur meet with Moffat County to discuss ambulance service

— The Dinosaur Town Council met with Moffat County commissioners Tuesday to discuss a new plan to get ambulance service to western Moffat County.

Officials have until Aug. 31 to secure emergency medical services since Rangely District Hospital informed the council that it would stop serving that area.

Rangely has sent ambulances to that portion of Moffat County for more than 50 years.

But it seems Dinosaur might have a plan.

“We have been meeting with Gold Cross, and they’re more than willing to” provide EMS services, Dinosaur Town Council member Richard Blakley said. “They’re sure they can have it done and ready by the first of September.”

Gold Cross is a private ambulance service based in Salt Lake City with EMS running out of Vernal, Utah, that can reach Dinosaur in about 30 minutes — about the same amount of time it takes to get emergency vehicles to town from Rangely.

The proposed solution would provide much faster service than having The Memorial Hospital in Craig, which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away, sending medical services for an emergency.

Although the project is in the preliminary stages, county commissioners and town officials from Dinosaur said they feel confident that a deal with Gold Cross could work.

“It sounds pretty positive. If we can work out a solution with a private company, I think that’s a good thing,” county Commissioner Chuck Grobe said. ”The company has to work out the logistics with coming into Colorado.”

Gold Cross even would provide training to residents of western Moffat County to be volunteer emergency medical technicians, Dinosaur Town Council member Bruce Long said.

He pressed the importance and with a facetious tone even admitted that not having these services could have an effect on him and his family.

“My wife’s going to have trouble loading me back into the car,” Long said.

Rangely Hospital couldn’t afford to serve the Dinosaur area anymore, said Bernie Rice, chief compliance officer for Rangely Hospital.

“We’re not trying to be mean. We’ve been doing it for 50 years because we could,” he said.

Officials think that this could be a better solution than continuing the previous agreement with Rangely Hospital, Long said. Dinosaur was paying $6,000 per year to the hospital district, and Moffat County paid the same amount to cover any dry ambulance runs.

“This is a way the town of Dinosaur can be more independent,” Long said.

It would cost about $630 per person to train to be an EMT, and that excludes travel expenses, Long said. So the Town Council is asking Moffat County to provide $6,000 per year to fund that training. Although Gold Cross won’t charge the town for EMS services, the council member said the money still is necessary.

“We pay $5,400 in taxes for a hospital we can’t use,” he said referring to the tax dollars that residents of western Moffat county pay for TMH per year.

Blakley is eager to work out a plan that would enable western Moffat County to be more independent, he said, because working with Rangely has been a challenge.

Rangely Hospital also has stopped sending hospice services into Moffat County.

“It was a budgeting thing,” Rice said. “We have one home health nurse who’s trying to cover an entire area.” We “couldn’t do it anymore.”

County Commissioners Tom Mathers and John Kinkaid will be meeting with officials from Rangely Hospital on Monday to discuss other possible options for EMS services to western Moffat County.

“We’re keeping all avenues open at this point,” Grobe said. “We don’t have anything determined 100 percent. August is coming up pretty fast.”

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com

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