Letter to the editor: A Health Service District will sustain life-saving emergency care we all count on
An ambulance siren is one of the most universally recognizable noises in the world. It instantly elicits concern, sympathy, and prayers for those the EMS are rushing to save. As the EMS Medical Director and a Trauma Surgeon in Moffat County, I know firsthand that a few seconds can mean the difference between going home to your family or dying. I understand this professionally and personally.
Three years ago, I was in a near fatal car accident on Highway 40. My daughter, Jessica, and two of her friends were in the truck — a parent’s worst nightmare. I hit the guardrail, and it struck my daughter, who was sitting in the rear passenger seat. Because I have emergency medicine training, I had a tourniquet on hand to slow down the severe bleeding to her left leg. This isn’t something most people would have in their truck.
The available ambulance at the time was out of Maybell, which is about 20 miles from where the accident happened. Their rig did not have the IV fluids my daughter needed. Luckily, Craig Fire and Rescue was able to respond to the accident and provide the life-saving treatments. By divine intervention or just plain luck, my daughter’s life was saved that day through the patchwork of responders who all played a role in keeping her alive.
I walked away from that calamity as grateful as any parent would be. Jessica is doing great now. I also came away knowing that we can do better for our community. Moffat County needs a coordinated, independent, and county-wide EMS service with standardized equipment. We shouldn’t have to cross our fingers that the right combination of care would show up in times of emergency.
This is our opportunity to create the emergency response infrastructure we need and deserve. It is clear that Memorial Regional Health cannot continue to support this service, nor can any other entity within the county without additional financial support. If Moffat County had to cut back or stop providing EMS service, it would be disastrous. That is why I support the creation of a Moffat County health service district. Our Board of County Commissioners just heard public testimony on how the health service district would be created, and I believe it’s a strong path forward.
Moffat County currently relies on a patchwork of fragmented services to provide emergency response. While residents of Craig can expect an ambulance within minutes, that is not the case for residents in many remote and rural areas of the County. In Dinosaur, for example, residents must rely on ambulances responding from out of state when they call 911, resulting in longer response times.
Establishing a health service district would coordinate and streamline EMS services throughout the county, while maintaining Maybell’s well-established volunteer EMS services. For the first time ever, Dinosaur would receive an ambulance.
This coordination would also extend to the knowledge, training, and expertise of our first responders. Currently, training and experience vary across emergency services, with some crews responding to a higher volume of calls compared to others. By creating an independent EMS service through the health service district, we could provide enhanced training and experience to all emergency personnel, including in Maybell and Dinosaur, and make it possible for them to provide improved, life-saving care.
Moffat County residents deserve emergency care we can rely on. A health service district will keep our community safe, improve the training and experience of our first responders, and provide much needed stability and efficiency to our emergency response systems. For the sake of our families and our loved ones, I hope you will join me in supporting the Moffat County Health Service District.
Jeff Womble, M.D., F.A.C.S. (Medical Director for Emergency Medical Services, Moffat County)
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