Letter to the Editor: Consider the Cost

Stock Photo, St. George News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR – After reading a recent article concerning Gold Cross Ambulance’s bid to acquire the St. George 9-1-1-response area from Dixie Ambulance, I could not help but consider the incoherence of Utah’s current emergency medical service (EMS) system.  In this Republican-led, fiscally-responsible state, it boggles my mind that counties and municipalities still pay volunteer and paid-on-call firefighters to provide ambulance services to residents.  It further irritates me when these “mom-and-pop shops” fail to provide adequate services to residents and then band together (often at the behest and guidance of labor union officials), in a Wal-Mart-style attempt to mitigate the cost, liability and manpower concerns associated with ambulance operations.  All while respected, well-established, private EMS providers quietly compete for and provide cost-effective services to communities wise enough to use them.

In an era when every dollar counts, Utah communities need to focus on smart paths toward economic reform.  Although safety and security are the vested responsibilities of states, nowhere is it written that private, able-bodied men and women cannot use private endeavors to help their states realize these responsibilities.  Having greater access to modern pre-hospital emergency care, at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers (most private ambulance providers pay municipalities for response privileges and only bill patients and insurance companies responsible for services), seems like a good way to reduce taxes, increase revenue and provide jobs.

The battle between private healthcare providers, like the battle currently raging in St. George, is the future of the EMS industry.  This competition is what eventually provides an improved product for a reduced price.  Public institutions cannot reasonably afford the cost of adequate pre-hospital emergency medical services.  Privatization is good for the industry, local communities and free-market enterprise, and I applaud the efforts of Gold Cross Ambulance.

People are tired of contributing their hard-earned money to special interest groups, Medicare abusers, and free-loaders.  The privatization of ambulance services, coupled with the regulatory power of the state – a system already in place and in use for both public and private providers– ensures patient care standards are adhered to.  As such, the cost vs. benefit debate is removed from firehouses and EMS stations and placed squarely into the laps of legislators and city administrators.  Private ambulance service is available, and it is cost effective.  If you use it, you pay for it – just like a visit to the hospital.

The increased privatization of ambulance services will free up millions of dollars of taxpayer monies, improve area coverage and emergency response times for rural communities, and reallocate funds being used for bloated fire department payrolls and retirement plans.  So, let us consider the cost and finally put our money to good use.

Andrew Hardison, Clearfield

Related posts:

Perspectives: Making sense of the ambulance war

Ambulance war scapegoat? St. George Dispatch responds to hearing testimony

Ambulance war: Broken system, dispatch delays? Decision pending

Ambulance war: Contest for territory raises solvency, staffing issues at hearing

Public support for Dixie Ambulance floods hearing

Public hearing to discuss ambulance service in St. George; Dixie Ambulance receives negative audit

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

Gold Cross Could Replace Dixie Ambulance if Application is Approved

Gold Cross Submits Application to Provide 911 Ambulance Services in St. George

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  • Jack June 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Amen brother!! Well said.

  • trish June 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Just curious. Are there other private ambulance services that have expressed an interest or place a bid or an RFP?

  • Judson Tolman June 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Um ok! I will take the bait!
    I had to read it several times to be sure I understood the point. With all due respect to Mr. Hardison. While you have several good points in your letter, you fail to realize that the system you say is so desperately needed in southern Utah is already currently in place. In fact it has been in place for 28 years. Dixie Ambulance is NOT paid for by tax payers. It is a well established PRIVATE ambulance service that only charges when a patient is transported. It gives the St George area access to the modern pre hospital emergency care you speak of at NO cost to the tax payer.

    Further more the costs of these services are decided by the state of Utah. If Gold Cross is granted the bid they will charge the same amount for the same service. Either way the tax payer pays nothing unless they are the one being transported.

    Dixie Ambulance has been providing the jobs you speak of for 28 years now. If Gold Cross is granted the bid they will very likely bring down their people from SLC. So the same jobs will still be there but the Dixie employees will likely be out of work.

    While your intention are good they are unmerited. The privatization of the ambulance service in southern utah happened many years ago.

    So I ask if Gold Cross is SO concerned with the patients of southern Utah where have they been for the last 28 years while Dixie Ambulance has been building a successful business saving lives. A business that Gold Cross in now attempting to essentially steal. Steal you ask? Well they are not proposing a buy out they are proposing a take over.

    So again I say, southern Utah has a private ambulance service. One that provides quality patient care with well trained Paramedics on EVERY scene and two on Charlies and Deltas. One that is of NO cost to the tax payers. One that is in line with the same costs to the patient as any other provider. So will someone please enlighten us as to why the state should even be considering GIVING a hard earned 28 year old business to Gold Cross for free, when services they would provide would be of equal value to the patient and the tax payer?

    J Tolman

  • Jack June 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    This isn’t a Gold Gross vs Dixie piece. It’s a public vs private issue. Read it again. He used Dixie v Gold Cross an an example of the whole change that needs to happen system wide.

  • Nunyo June 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Interesting because its coming from a Gold Cross employee: http://www.peekyou.com/work/gold_cross_ambulance

  • paramin June 20, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Tolman – You need to read this article several more times and you will see this is not a Dixie vs Gold Cross article. It is clearly spelled out in the article y that he is speaking of the future of EMS, that private ambulance companies will battle out to cover ALL areas of the state. It spells out the benefits of private ambulances and that Fire Departments have no business in EMS. This type of licensing process will play out many more times throughout our state as other cities will see the value of private ambulance service such as that provided by Dixie Ambulance and Gold Cross Ambulance. Lastly Gold Cross does not transfer employees, it didn’t when we put our first two ambulances in St George and I’m sure they won’t in the future. Washington County has plenty of certified employees who can fill any spot that opens.

  • bandit June 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    It doesn’t matter if he works for GC or not. He’s not bashing Dixie in ANY way. Good job on being an internet stalker Nunyo. Post up your real info like Andrew had the courage to do.

  • Judson Tolman June 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Thanks for the responses as I love a good debate! He states “Privatization is good for the industry, local communities and free-market enterprise, and I applaud the efforts of Gold Cross Ambulance.” One could certainly read this letter- as I did- that the current situation is one of a public ambulance service. that is simply not the case. If one didn’t know better this letter could lead one to believe that taxpayers are currently footing the bill in southern utah.
    I am all for the free enterprise and competition creating a better situation for the consumer! However that is simply not the case in this situation. The argument of providing more for less does not apply. Is GC going to charge less and provide more? The state BEM will issue a contract. The company that owns that will charge what the state allows them to charge for a service regulated by the state. This situation is unlike the free enterprise you see in other businesses. Furthermore this article proves a point I made earlier. Any other EMS provider in the state should be looking at this pay very close attention. When their ambulance service is built up to a point of being worth something they may find themselves in a situation that DAS is currently in.

    I am all for free enterprise but this article seems written to lead readers, that do not know the situation into believing that Southern Utah is in dire need of a change in ambulance services from public to private.

  • paramin June 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Since we do work in a regulated industry we need to look at all parts that can be regualted. If Gold Cross can prove that they can provide service better, faster and/ or for less money to the consumer then the state will look at the possibility of a change to the current system that is provided. In larger areas such as Salt Lake then the City will issue a RFP (request for proposal) and in that they will spell out what things they would like to have provided and anybody including say West Valley City could put in a proposal that spells out how they will meet the needs spelled out in the RFP. That is how a regulated system works to protect both city and tax payer. This is why the future of Ambulance Service belongs to private Ambulances because they will alsways provide the best service possible at the lowest cost.

  • bandit June 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I must be reading it differently than you Judson. He knows the public isn’t running EMS in Dixie. He knows it’s private. GC isn’t going to offer more for less. Everything is regulated by the state. Plain and simple. He is saying it’s cheaper to go private than public. Plain and simple. There’s a situation in Utah county developing where a city has called GC for a presentation and is considering dumping it’s fire dept run ambulance. Those are the situations he’s referring to. Dixie may be a great company. It has great employees. Ask the city leaders why they want a change in EMS. I assume you’ll find your answers there. Most city run ambulances in the state have to be subsidized by taxpayers. Not so for private. A lot of FD’s in N Utah are losing money running ambulance and can’t justify it anymore. In SL, Utah Valley, all over. It’s an even bigger problem nationwide.

  • Mark June 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    So if your saying let the private companies battle it out then Gold Cross watch out. AMR will be knocking on the door and I’m pretty sure their pockets are a whole lot deeper than any private company in Utah! You just may be in the same predicament you are putting Dixie in.

  • paramin June 20, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Mark – They already came to Salt Lake, stayed for 4 years and left on their own stating it was too difficult in Utah to make enough money to keep it’s stock holders happy.

  • Judson Tolman June 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Point taken. However, given the title of this letter “Consider the Cost” and that it was submitted to a St George news organization and not a Utah county organization; I believe one can safely assume the author intended the readers to consider the benefits of a private ambulance service in St George. If one didn’t know better they could be led to believe we do not currently have a private ambulance service here. Obviously the author, as well as you and I know thats the case. But do all the other readers? I just felt it needed clarification, thats all. Thanks!

  • Mark June 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    No Southwest came to Utah, not AMR.

    • paramin June 21, 2011 at 7:17 am

      Southwest Ambulance is the same company as Rural Metro which is the second largest private provider in the US. They are also the largest provider of private fire service. they are not AMR but I’m sure AMR took notice

  • bandit June 20, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Judson it was submitted to all major newspapers in the state. St George was the first to publish it.

  • Judson Tolman June 20, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Interesting!! Thanks!

Comments are closed.