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