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EMS coordinator debate continues

The Moffat County commissioners want to hire an emergency medical services coordinator but several first responders in Moffat County still say it would be an unnecessary move.

Josh Nichols

The Moffat County commissioners want to hire an emergency medical services coordinator but several first responders in Moffat County still say it would be an unnecessary move.

“I don’t think we need an EMS coordinator,” Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead told the commissioners in a Tuesday meeting. “I think the program we have in place now works.”

Grinstead was referring to the emergency medical services council, which is represented by first responders from several different entities in the counties and the townships within it.

Last month, the commissioners called a meeting with the council to propose the hiring of an EMS coordinator.

“There are broken pieces in the system and we need someone anticipating the situations like the one in Dinosaur,” Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson told the EMS council members at the meeting.

The meeting was called because a man died in Dinosaur last summer while waiting for an ambulance to arrive from Rangely.

Volunteer EMTs in Dinosaur were the first to arrive at the scene of the heart attack victim but were not able to transport the man themselves because they were not certified to do so.

Those EMTs said it took the Rangely ambulance more than an hour to arrive at the scene.

But Grinstead said the allegations cast by those EMTs were not true.

“I will show the reports that say everything was done with proper procedure,” he said. “We had a deputy there within minutes. What has happened here is an individual has ruffled some feathers and you’re going against the entire system.”

But Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said what she heard in the October meeting indicated there was a need for a coordinator.

“In that meeting, I had a lot of concerns about communication problems,” she said. “One concern is Dinosaur but we also have areas like Maybell that need coverage and we’re trying to figure out how to solve all of these issues.”

Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg countered Raftopoulos, agreeing with his supervisor.

“Give the EMS council some time to solve that,” Hoberg said. “I don’t know how hiring someone is going to help this situation.”

Grinstead said other solutions are available.

He said the sheriff’s department has proposed in the past placing deputies throughout the western part of the county, such as in Dinosaur, Browns Park and Maybell.

But he said the commission denied the proposal.

“There’s a lot of other solutions out there,” he said. “We tried to think outside of the box then and here we are a few years later addressing the same issue.”

Raftopoulos said a coordinator would improve communication between the agencies and with the commissioners.

“One thing we know is we have not received the communication we need,” she said.

“Then when something does happen it’s not brought back on you,” she said to Grinstead. “It’s brought back to us.”

Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton agreed a solution to the situation was necessary.

“We know we’ve got a problem,” he said. “We cannot continue the way we are.”

He then made reference to an invisible line just west of the city of Craig.

“Anything east of that line is OK,” he said. “Anything on the other side is not.”

At its meeting Monday, the commissioners:

o Approved a conditional use permit for construction of a cellular tower on land leased by Union Telephone company south of Craig.

o Swore in Lloyd Powers as Moffat County surveyor.

o Heard an update from Social Services Director Marie Peer.

o Heard an update from Human Resources Director Tom Skelding.

o Heard a Haz-mat team update from members of the Craig Fire Department and Emergency Manager Clyde Anderson.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.


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