ST. GEORGE – In the wake of Gold Cross Ambulance’s bid to become St. George City’s next 911 emergency medical service, questions have been asked and objections made concerning the matter. Some readers of St. George News have voiced their support for the local company, Dixie Ambulance, and do not wish to see its position in the community unseated. Others welcome the possible arrival of Gold Cross as they tout the potential for superior service.
Yet, just what does Dixie Ambulance and Gold Cross Ambulance have to say on the matter?
“It’s a legal license to steal our business without compensation,” said, Mike Miller, the general manager of Dixie Ambulance.
He said that, if the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services approves Gold Cross’s bid for St. George, Dixie Ambulance would simply cease to exist. This is in large part due to the way the state of Utah assigns 911 emergency transport provider contracts – only one ambulance service per a specific geographic region. Currently, Dixie Ambulance has exclusive rights to act as the 911 emergency medical services for the St. George area and some of the surrounding region.
Needless to say, Dixie Ambulance isn’t happy about the prospect of being phased out by another company.
One thing Gold Cross must do in order to replace Dixie Ambulance, is prove to the Bureau that Dixie Ambulance is somehow lacking in its ability to competently serve the community. This is something Miller is not pleased with at all.
“We have a very good relationship with St. George City,” Miller said, and mentioned that in his interaction with city officials, none have ever voiced a concern about the service Dixie Ambulance provides.
“We worry first about the patient and proper care. That is our first and foremost priority,” Millar said, and added that EMTs and paramedics that are employed by Dixie Ambulance are thoroughly dedicated to their jobs, and very qualified.
“These people love what they do,” he said.
EMTs and paramedics hired by Dixie Ambulance must be state certified and go through thorough orientation and training programs. Dixie Ambulance’s emergency doctor also interviews potential hires in order to make sure he or she is a good candidate for the job.
Also, Dixie Ambulance’s average response time to emergency calls is 7.2 minutes. The maximum response time allowed by the state is 13 minutes and 59 seconds. Dixie Ambulance has maintained this record since 2009.
“I know our goal, and our mission, and I know the truth,” Miller said, confident in the life-saving service and dedication that Dixie Ambulance has shown the St. George area over the last 30 years.
So the question begs asking: if the system isn’t broken, than why should anyone attempt to fix it?
Mike Moffitt, the president of Gold Cross Ambulance, doesn’t agree with that assumption.
“The system is broken,” he said.
Moffitt said that his company has analyzed the needs of St. George, and finds the current emergency service provider to be woefully inadequate. He remarked that Dixie Ambulance currently does not have enough ambulances and staff to properly service the area. Their response times, he argues, are not the best either.
On the question of response times, Moffitt spoke of “fractile” response times versus average ones. He explained that fractile response times are an industry standard. This standard is set under 9 minutes at a rate of 90 percent. Gold Cross holds to this standard, and goes as far as to propose that emergency responses in St. George will be at 8 minutes, 90 percent of the time.
As for pricing, given that the state regulates the maximum any ambulance service can charge transported patients, Moffett said that Gold Cross would provide St. George with a much higher level of service than the area currently enjoys.
As with Dixie Ambulance, EMTs and paramedics employed by Gold Cross must be state certified, undergo orientation and training, pass continuing education requirements, and be physically capable of handling the job.
Though Gold Cross currently isn’t the 911 provider in St. George, it should be noted that they already do have a presence in the area. In April 2011, Gold Cross donated a retired ambulance to the paramedic program at Dixie State College. Two Gold Cross ambulances are also attached to the Dixie Regional Medical Center and provide hospital transport.
“We give back to the communities we serve,” Moffitt said. Being a larger company has allowed Gold Cross to donate used ambulances and equipment to humanitarian efforts around the globe.
Gold Cross Ambulance has been in business since 1968, and currently serves Salt Lake, Utah, Uintah, and Juab Counties. The Commission of Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS), an organization that sets a high standard of excellence for ambulance services across North America, also accredits them. So far, Gold Cross is the only company in Utah recognized by CAAS.
Currently Gold Cross’s application to the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services is still being reviewed. Interestingly, it should be noted that, according to the Utah Administrative Code, political subdivisions (towns, cities, etc) could choose which ambulance service they want, as long as certain criteria set by the state are met. So far, the City of St. George has opted to let the Bureau handle the selection process between Dixie Ambulance and Gold Cross.
For anyone interested in contacting the Utah Bureau of Emergency Services and learning more about the process of Ambulance service selection, visit them at: https://health.utah.gov/ems/
Copyright St. George News 2011
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