Voters asked to keep rural Idaho ambulance service

Credit: KTVB

Voters asked to keep rural Idaho ambulance service

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 8:31 PM

WEISER -- Voters in Washington County are being asked to approve a permanent levy that would maintain an advance life support ambulance service to their community.

Washington County Commissioner Mike Hopkins said without its approval, the ambulance district may have to downgrade their care and possibly even rely on volunteers.

“We were notified by the state tax commission that we exceeded our levy rate and we had to move back down to what other ambulance districts were afforded,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins said, at worst case scenario paramedics could be replaced with basic EMTs meaning the care provided would become limited.

“We might have to go back to just a basic life support program,” said Hopkins.

According to the county, the ambulance district is losing $85,000 a year so they want to increase the amount they can tax from .004% to .006%.

“So now we are trying to make the case to our voters that this is a service that is very important to our community,” said Hopkins.

Paramedics can do more than EMTs, by administering drugs, providing cardiac monitoring, just to name a few.

Paramedic Larry Colella says the difference is huge.

“The difference between a BLS and an ALS service is BLS service is a bag valve mask, me doing CPR and me driving you to the hospital,” said Colella.

“The beauty of an ALS service is that we can provide so much more,” he said.

Hopkins says the service travels from Midvale to Cambridge to Council and even parts of Eastern Oregon.  He feels the need is there.

“We have a lot of ranchers and farmers, and again, we have industrial accidents. We have a lot of traffic on highway 95,” said Hopkins.

In recent years, passing the levy has come close but failed each time; the Weiser Ambulance District is hoping voters will finally come through this time.

“If we can save a life or two it is well worth the money to spend,” said Colella.

The additional cost to tax payers if passed would be about 20 dollars extra a year for a home valued at $100,000. Hopkins said 80 percent of their budget goes to paying for staff.

He also said, the county owns their building and they rent it out to the ambulance district for one dollar a year.

The Ambulance service is staffed with one paramedic and one EMT basic 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The district runs about a thousand calls a year.

Voters will be asked to decide on November 6th.

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