Dixie Ambulance Voices its Opinion on Gold Cross’ Application; Gold Cross Says System is Broken

Stock Photo, St. George News

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/

Email mkessler@stgnews.com

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

Editor’s Note: Inappropriate language and personal attacks are not allowed in the comment section and will be removed. Please keep the dialogue appropriate.

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8 Comments

  • Chad June 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Since they have closed the other article comments, I would like to ask R. Leavit were he gets his information from. I have many friends that work for the fire service and provide the paramedic service for their community. These guys have the best of both worlds they fight fire and save lives. If they are tied up on a medical or fire cal they have other stations that assist with calls. I think that the local fire department would do an awesome job providing the EMS service. I do believe that Washington City Fire and Ivins Fire is trying to go this route because they want to provide better service for their community. I have heard good and bad from both companies and believe its not the owners that make the difference it the people out in the field.

  • Satand sad July 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    The truth is that Gold Cross will win this battle at the end of it all. I say this as a paramedic who has worked for many agencies inside and outside of Utah- including Gold Cross, Dixie Ambulance and DRMC. I will say publically that DRMC and Gold Cross are the best employers I’ve ever worked for.
    AND, I will shout from the roof tops that Dixie Ambulance, Mike Miller, and Tony Randall are the worst employers I’ve ever worked for in my life! They are not good managers and they take advantage of their employees. Worse than that is that they use fire response times to 911 calls as their own response times. The public deserves to know the truth. Dixie Ambulance doesn’t arrive at those supposed “8 minute” response times they keep talkin’ about. The fire trucks and police are arriving to 911 calls @ that “8 minute” time frame- but not always is Dixie Ambulance there. But they pretend those “8 minute” time responses are a result of Dixie Ambulances response. Those claims are lies. The truth is that Dixie Ambulance will often not show up until many minutes later, leaving the medics on the fire truck to be first responders (remember the hangin’? Where was Dixie Ambulance!).
    Please, City Council, EMS, State of Utah, Wahington County, Mayor MacArher whoever will listen — please get rid of Dixie Ambulance. We welcome another agency. Gold Cross – Please come forward and provide the services our community deserves. Or help our Fire agencies take over first response ambulance services. Gold Cross is saying they will place more ambulances throughout the community. That is far better than Dixie Ambulance has even done for Saint George. I feel like the city and community are afraid to tell the truth because they don’t want to hurt Tony or Mike’s feelings or upset their families. Well, this isn’t about the Randall’s or Miller’s freakin’ retirement!!!!
    GOOD BYE Dixie Ambulance and WELCOME Gold Cross!!!!

  • Mark July 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    What happened to the editor? I thought no personal attacks were allowed?

  • Tanner Maughan September 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    i would like to know what the age requirement is to apply and work at gold cross is. dixie ambulance’s is 21, i’m almost 18 and want to start work as an emt right away. i volunteer as a firefighter an allmost an emt basic. i asked what it was for dixie and they denied it to me. i want gold cross they seem better anyway.

  • Firefly September 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

    On Valentines day of this year (2011) I took my spouse to the Albertsons in Washingtom City. Time was 6:15 AM and the pressure washer had just completed washing the entrance to the store. The water had run into the parking lot, and as it was 27 degrees at that time, the water run-ff had frozen and turned into black ice. My spouse slipped and fell and hit her head on the ground. I immediately picked her up and took her into the store and asked that an ambulance be called. Fortunately, an off-duty Washington City Fire EMT heard to call by dispatch and responded within 3 minutes of call. I was told by this young man that Dixie Ambulance was also responding. Long story short, Dixie Ambulance arrived 23 full minutes later. Thats 7 minutes short of 1/2 hour response time. I tend to believe Satand sad, the former Dixie employee who posted above, regarding their response time claims.

  • urbanboy September 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

    This seems like a no brainer. Look at achievements of Gold cross vs Dixie. Of course ur gonnna have ur die-hard longtime locals against Dixie being replaced, which I understand to a small point, but not when it comes to who’s better and faster. Face it, this is bigger than competition, we’re talking lives here. To me there should be no discussion, a better ambulance/EMT service gets the spot, period. Gold Cross, welcome to St George!

  • ms jackson September 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Gold Cross…just the name alone sounds more official and must say, I have to agree with most comments. It shouldn’t be a decision or a waiting game when one clearly stands out.

  • Mike September 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    The problem is that one company doesn’t “clearly stand out”. Unless both companies are allowed to operate down here at the same time, we won’t know which one is better. Every argument to this point has be hearsay and personal opinion, except for the experiences people have had, and I’m sure there are plenty of slow-ambulance horror stories with Gold Cross and any other company.

    There are arguments for both sides of this story. It seems like most issues people have with DAS is with their management/ownership… so it is personal? There are people with experience working for both companies who have differing opinions, as well.

    Normally I’m a “local-first” kind of guy, but after hearing and reading stories about this argument over the last few months I think there’s only one way to make a decision: Give both companies a share of the area and see who comes out on top. Then we can ask the firefighters and police (who are always there first) who they prefer working with and who responds faster. It will give DAS a chance to step up its game and GC a chance to prove that it’s better. It will give EMTs a chance to work for a different company, if they want, and there will be little to debate.

    Unfortunately, this whole discussion is futile because the current “good ol’ boys” in the mayor’s offices and city councils would never approve of something that could hurt their friends’ business.

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