Ambulance war: Dixie Ambulance to close its doors

ST. GEORGE – Beginning Sunday morning, Dixie Ambulance Service will no longer be servicing St. George and the surrounding areas as its 911-emergency transport provider.

Shutting down

In a letter sent to the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, the City of St. George and others, Dixie Ambulance announced Tuesday it that will cease providing ambulance service in its licensed area as of 7 a.m., April 14. At this time the ambulance service which has served St. George and the surrounding area for over 30 years will shut its doors.

“We have deemed it a privilege and honor to have served our community these many years,” Dixie Ambulance’s owners wrote in the letter.

Mac Miller, Dixie Ambulance’s public information officer, said the reason for Dixie Ambulance’s closing, was due to a lack of paramedics needed to continue servicing its currently licensed-area  – St. George, Washington and Santa Clara – effectively and responsibly.

“We’re done,” Mac Miller said.

Tom Burckhard, Gold Cross’s director of operations for it southern division, said the company has taken on former Dixie Ambulance employees.

Though the Utah Bureau of Emergency Medical Services had awarded Dixie Ambulance’s two 911-paramedic emergency transport licenses to Gold Cross, that transfer was not to take effect until May 1. However, Miller said paramedics formerly with Dixie Ambulance will begin training with Gold Cross on April 15, which has prompted the closure.

Gold Cross was awarded Dixie Ambulance’s licenses on March 27 by Dr. David Patton, the executive director of BEMS. Patton based his decision on the findings put forth in a 66-page ruling recommendation produced by the hearing officer who oversaw a four-day hearing between Gold Cross and Dixie Ambulance concerning who could serve the St. George area better.

The hearing officer, Maxwell Miller, in his recommendation to the BEMS, found Dixie Ambulance to be dangerously deficient in areas pertaining to staffing, financial stability, vehicle maintenance, patient care protocols and a plethora of other issues that ultimately placed Dixie Ambulance at odds with state EMS regulations. Gold Cross, on the other hand, was found to be in complete compliance with state code and able to provide superior service to the people of St. George.

The licenses awarded to Gold Cross would have been for St. George only. Dixie Ambulance would have retained Washington and Santa Clara. However, with the surrender of the licenses for the entirety for Dixie Ambulance’s area, this means Washington and Santa Clara will be without an official 911-transport provider for the time being. This doesn’t mean they won’t go without service, however.

Uninterrupted service

Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George, said the city contacted BEMS concerning Dixie Ambulance’s closure and was told the state will initiate a contingency plan created for incidents like this.

“(BEMS) said they would provide uninterrupted ambulance service,” Mortensen said. “And that’s not just for St. George, but for all of Dixie Ambulance’s area.”

State law doesn’t allow for the creation of “orphan areas,” or areas that would experience a disruption in ambulance service. To fill the gap the state works with nearby agencies to provide coverage until the areas affected settle on a more permanent solution.

The state will have Washington and Santa Clara taken care of “when Dixie Ambulance ceases operations,” Mortensen said.

Initially there were concerns that Dixie Ambulance wouldn’t be able to continue operating due to losing 25-30 percent of its original coverage area.

In response to this possibility, Mike Moffitt, president of Gold Cross Ambulance, said his company was prepared to help provide ambulance coverage in Santa Clara and Washington until those cities choose what route to take for future ambulance service.

Given Gold Cross was only planning to begin training on Monday, are they ready for the sudden transition?

“Yes we are,” Burckhard said. “We will be ready to go on Sunday morning at 7 a.m.”

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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47 Comments

  • Big Don April 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Too bad. But that is the way things go.

    So here is a warning to Gold Cross: You had better have exemplary service down here. If not, there are some of us prepared to do a class action law suit against you, and your hired mouthpiece. So mind your P’s and Q’s.

    • Marge with a vengeance! April 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      Yea, you say that til it’s YOUR life on the line, then it’s all you minding your p’s and q’s!

  • Omari April 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    If ya’ll are better service for the city, then welcome to the STG. Sure it’s sometimes tough to see the local name fall after so many years, but like in any growing city, with growth comes this aspect of change. You can’t honestly expect small local companies to be able to keep up with higher, expanding demand.

  • Louanna April 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Call me shallow, but…..I’m excited just to see one less thing in these parts named “Dixie”, Welcome Gold Cross!

    • Janna April 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      I wouldn’t call you shallow I would call you ignorant. Do you realize how many people are losing there jobs. You think Gold Cross is going to hire all those employee’s.. No! I hope the same happens for you, then. I wish people like you would educate themselves! this is a bigger issue then a business with “Dixie” in the name. Those poor families. My heart goes out to all of you!

      • Louanna April 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm

        Look, lad you don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I’m from the dirty dirty, and I know ya’ll pioneers nicnamed the area for growing cotton cuz it be warm and all, but on the real, everything and some is named Dixie mmkay. Nothin personal, I’m just thinking people need to be a lil’ more creative in their naming you feel me?

        • Urban Desert April 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

          Real talk, I feel you on that! Everything here is either name Dixie or Red Rock, daaaaam!!!

          • Urban Desert April 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm

            (I’m referring to Louanna)

  • Brudus April 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Why can’t the urbanized area from Washington to Santa Clara/Ivins continue being served? I don’t understand, it’s not like St George alone is a big city to engulf all ambulance services.

  • Craig O. April 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    As I posted in the Spectrum News…

    “The People” once again lose after suffering from political cronyism practiced by their elected officials, this time happening in the state of Utah. Political power and special interests trump over the wants and will of the people. Dixie Ambulance gets a kick in the teeth after serving their community well.
    Senator Steve Urquhart is most likely celebrating along with his client, Gold Cross and certain members of the St. George city council, right now. I hope the citizens keep their eye on these individuals and push for a ethics investigation.
    I know I am just an outsider from Michigan looking in but I do love this country as a whole. We are still the UNITED STATES of AMERICA with a constitution that some of our elected officials seem to forget or ignore.
    I know what corruption looks like from living in the Detroit Metropolitan area my entire life. Once corruption is present, it is difficult to get rid of but it can be done; just ask Detroit’s previous mayor, his present address is our local prison.
    It is up to the citizens how much they can take before taking a stand. You don’t have to put up with it anymore.

  • Ron C. de Weijze April 9, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    “The hearing officer, Maxwell Miller, in his recommendation to the BEMS, found Dixie Ambulance to be dangerously deficient in areas pertaining to staffing, financial stability, vehicle maintenance, patient care protocols and a plethora of other issues that ultimately placed Dixie Ambulance at odds with state EMS regulations. Gold Cross, on the other hand, was found to be in complete compliance with state code and able to provide superior service to the people of St. George.”
    .
    – Do not forget to mention that the president of Gold Cross is on the BEMS board, the Senator is his paid attorney (extending the donations towards his political career ambitions), nonpublic information ended up in the Recommendation, bogus “evidence” of how good Gold Cross was presented as proof, no more than claims from Gold Cross’ president on the BEMS board itself, himself, and 100% ignoring the endorsements from the public hearing, gathered while claiming the hearing was informal but dismissed while claiming the hearing was formal after all (stated in the Recommendation).
    .
    The way this railroad job was handled by politicians and businessmen inside trading is not so much of a surprise. After all, politics are meant to make the unethical seem ethical. But that justice and journalism do not seem to be interested in the process that must have taken place, doing some investigative journalism instead of highlighting some appearances, does come as a surprise in a State of Dixie that is known for its high moral standards. I still have to find out why that is, even as a Philosopher in the Netherlands. For this is a travesty of justice and journalism – nothing less. If I were a journalist in St George, I would ask councilman Jon Pike, why the city has elected not to set their own standards and how he could not see the conflict of interest before his eyes when Steve Urquhart “offered” to take over this right of the citizens of St George. What else could the motive have been than to pave the way for his client Mike Moffitt, provider of political donations to the Senator’s career and paying him as their attorney? And to finish it off: what is wrong with this picture in the light of JR6-1-102 – Code of Official Conduct?

  • JJ Slice April 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Fair warning to Gold Cross Ambulance: Beware 2016! Jon Pike’s city council term expires in 2015. Jon will also lose his bid for mayor this fall because of unforseen backlash on this issue. Steve Urquhart’s state senate term expires in 2015. Steve will lose his Senate because of the Ambulance issue and other backlash for his positions on other issues and his pompous buffoonish approach to constituents. Urquhart has been outed for the out-of-touch self-serving politician he is. Pike has been sullied as a back-room deal making servant of Urquhart. In 2016 Gold Cross will be forced to survive without these 2 clowns.

    • kkkkrrrr April 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      Funny thin is the silent majority support Steve and John. You will be sorely disappointed…

      • ken April 10, 2013 at 7:43 am

        I think you mean the spineless twits support the crooks!

    • K April 10, 2013 at 7:53 am

      You really think people will remember all this come 2015. Between now and then Gold Cross will prove itself to the small portion of the population that really cares about whos name in on the side of the bus when they are having a medical emergency and this and it will all be forgotten.

      • Ron C. de Weijze April 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

        Integrity is timeless. Ethics beats politics if you want to. Just mark your calendar or your memory. Plus there will be an appeal, we may hope, if we stand strong, together, to stand up for what is Right. This was inside trading of nonpublic information to boost everyone on the inside. But the cat is out of the bag and it gives us a chance to correct the wrongs. And it may carry far and wide, for this happens both on the political left and right. All we need is our common sense, our voice and making a difference where and when we can, keeping the good name of Dixie for its moral standards high and exemplary.

        • The Old One April 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

          Ron, guess you need to be reminded that this is Dixie. Where common sense is non-existent, and moral standards are only high and exemplary, when someone is watching.

          • Ron C. de Weijze April 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

            Improve the world, begin with yourself.

  • elliemae100 April 10, 2013 at 12:33 am

    – Too bad about Dixie Ambulance choosing to close its doors. Hopefully the employees will have the opportunity to find full time jobs (with benefits). The owners of Dixie Ambulance won’t be hurting, as they have taken over $2,000,000 in draws from the company (page 55 of the final order). Had the owners chosen to reinvest the money into their company and employees, they wouldn’t be closing their doors now. They have a contract to serve the area through May 1st, and they lack the ability to continue operating until that date, so they are proving that they’re not a viable entity.

    – The claims of corruption in the process appear to overlook the fact that Dixie Ambulance has had over a year to address many of the issues that lead to their loss of the contract. Even though the public’s opinion is important, the company wasn’t operating up to standards set by the State. Instead of crying foul, Dixie could have submitted a plan of corrections (and actually corrected some of the glaring issues). This isn’t an issue of corruption – it’s an issue of public service.

    • Ron C. de Weijze April 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

      So called evidence in the competition’s self-serving Recommended Final Order, are claims made by Michael Moffitt only, verbally at the “unofficial” public hearing back in December, with no proof at all, followed by his denigrating “this is all garbage, not worth mentioning”. Maxwell Miller, working for Moffitt because both serve the state-level Bureau of Emergency Management Services, only did what he was told to do and write up in his Recommended Final Order. Inside information that could have come from nowhere if not from inside trading between friends, cronies, Steve Urquhart and Michael Moffitt, the one senator and attorney for the other and the other long time provider of campaign money (follow the money!) and employer of his friend the senator, as his attorney, for his company, Gold Cross.

  • miss ellie April 10, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Sad, but if Dixie Ambulance had secured better legal representation, by a law firm that would have dedicated more time to them and their case, they may have straightened up their issues that cost them their contract. Legal counsel obviously knew of DA’s short comings LONG ago, as counsel SHOULD have known that those existed, and should have taken steps to get their client on the right path, instead of just taking DA’s money!

  • Lyndee April 10, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Thank you Gold Cross for causing about 50 employees to be suddenly without jobs. Thank you for devastating the families of those 50 employees who will now be struggling in a bad economy. And since Gold Cross is not hiring EMTs there is really no local opportunities for them. Way to come into a community and be a part of it by driving others out.

    • Marge with a vengeance! April 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      GET EDUCATED!!!!!!!!!! THEY ARE HIRING EX-DA EMTS!!!!!!!!!

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten April 10, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Everyone is badmouthing the BEMS, elected officials, attorneys, etc… I had the experience of working alongside Dixie Ambulance for over 18 years of my life, they do have and have had some of the BEST Paramedics and EMT’s in the state!!! No one can deny that! I also knew a few of the EMT’s and Paramedics on a personal basis. They ALL had complaints about the slip shod equipment they had to work with, the ambulances in poor shape mechanically, outdated equipment, supplies etc. The owners and management are to blame for what has taken place, not employees, elected officials, etc. I also KNOW that Gold Cross has absorbed a lot of the DAS employees, as much as they could. C’mon people, put the blame where it belongs! The DAS had plenty of time to rectify their issues and didn’t. Yes, they were up against a big dog but that is the way of corporate life. I wish all affected by this situation the BEST, especially the employees of DAS who may be out of a job for a while…

    • Ron C. de Weijze April 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Jon R. Cocktoasten, don’t spit in the well you drank from for over 18 years of your life.

    • optimismalways April 10, 2013 at 11:37 am

      I’m with Jon on this one…. Best of luck to the employees of DAS who were the ones to suffer in this situation. As I’m aware, some of them have already been hired by Gold Cross and have started training with them already. @ Ron: How much more warning did DAS management need, do you think? And how much more evidence do you need? 2 million dollars in draws on the company is an issue for ANY company, especially one where they know they are under the microscope. Regardless of their industry, they are first and foremost a business and with poor business practices, they would have had this happen or gone under very soon. Ordered to repay several thousands of dollars in grant money that was misused, receiving the only negative audit for an EMS company in over 20 years, and knowing they were being scrutinized for almost 2 full years, they had many chances to avoid this situation and chose to do nothing but place blame on everything and everyone else. That’s their own issue. If EMS services were contracted as any other sort of business (construction, hvac, even hair salons), they would have had to prove their worth and value to whomever they were bidding. Had that been the case, I suspect things would have been much different and the attitude of complacency and entitlement replaced with actually trying to run a competitive business.

      • Ron C. de Weijze April 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        Yes best of luck to them. DAS management is not to blame for they were never warned, might they have done anything wrong, which will be decided in court where they WILL have their say. There is nothing optimistic about boosting claims that were made and never backed up, especially not by a 66 page instruction manual for GC on what to say and how to say it. You should have heard what was said at the “unofficial” public meeting in December that was dismissed (“garbage”) and further ignored, in that paper. Else go to ‘save Dixie Ambulance’ on FB (not ‘save Gold Cross Dixie’) and try to falsify your statements. This is not about what management did or did not do, but about politics and business, what they did do at that local restaurant breakfast meeting, as the most essential part of the whole process, with GC’s president suggesting to the Senator who called the meeting and to the City Councilman that it was whispered to him that Dixie did not perform well, while his company did so he would like to take over, with the help of his friend and paid attorney the Senator also at the table. Most critical is whether Jon Pike did or did not know this was crucial in GC’s pursuit to take over Dixie’s 911 license. There is the moment you are looking for and nowhere else.

        • Chris April 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

          Ron, you are wrong. This most certainly is about what DAS management did or did not do. DAS management raped the company for their personal gain, and left the underpaid, mistreated employees to fend for themselves. Management has now gotten what they deserved.

          • Ron C. de Weijze April 11, 2013 at 5:15 am

            We shall see about that in court. I believe you are wrong.

        • elliemae100 April 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

          Dixie claimed that serving the community was its only goal – but now they close their doors early. Where’s that service to the community now?
          -If the owners hadn’t withdrawn $2million, there would not only be operating capital but also the company would have been able to afford to hire an independent company to make a recommendation as to which company might best serve the area. I did read the 66 page report in its entirety, and the scathing review given to Dixie Ambulance convinced me that the best company was awarded the contract.
          -If the owners had chosen to pay Dixie employees a living wage (instead of their having to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet), their staff wouldn’t have jumped ship at the first opportunity to work for Gold Cross.
          -Besides the report, the one thing that convinced me that Gold Cross was the best choice was the attacks upon its critics posted by Dixie’s owners. Dixie Ambulance had sufficient time to implement a plan of corrections, which would have provided some insight into their plan to assume responsibility for their past behaviors. Instead, they chose to attack their critics and claim that they are the victim of politics… but it’s politics as usual as they close their doors in St. George early and exit the Washington County area altogether.

          • Ron C. de Weijze April 11, 2013 at 7:54 am

            Elliemae, claims always need to be backed up by facts or by independent confirmation. The $2M is such a claim. The 66 p report is, when I had read almost all of it, full of bogus logic. Facts are just CALLED facts while they are claims from the aggressively competing party, full of dependent confirmation for themselves and independent rejection of Dixie. I believe Dixie was and is struggling to make ends meet and still maintain the level of quality service that gave them their high praises on FB (500+ “likes”) and at the hearing, that didn’t make it to the 66, since it was announced as “informal” and then dismissed as invalid and called “formal” in the 66 pages. It is a sham.

          • Chris April 11, 2013 at 8:35 am

            Thanks elliemae. I agree completely. DAS management ran their company on the cheap so they could fill their own pockets. They were and are completely unethical. It is highly unlikely that this case will ever reach a court of law. DAS and their incompetent attorney, Cliff Dunn, don’t have a legal leg to stand on. Self-styled “philosophers” from the Netherlands don’t have a clue about the real story here.

          • Ron C. de Weijze April 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

            Chris, I may not have a clue what I am talking about, but my philosophy application has been filled with all the data I could find on the net and from the people involved the most. And I am always willing to correct any wrongs in my philosophy for I would not want to be accused of being preoccupied with stereotypes so if you could point out the errors in my thinking I would be most grateful.

  • Over and Done April 11, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Well, I guess the whole thing is a moot argument now anyhow. For better or worse, Gold Cross is here, and I’m sure they will stay here. I’m also sure they will try to take over Hurricane, Leeds and maybe even Zion Canyon. Anywhere they can make the money.
    I just hope their service, training and equipment are good.

  • miss ellie April 11, 2013 at 11:56 am

    @ Ron: Sir, YOU don’t know the facts! The only ones that do know those facts of the management of DA and what really occurred are those within DA, and the attorneys that represent them! The attorneys know the complete truth and facts. Those things that are not known by any other person. Obviously, DA had management faults, that had nothing to do with their EMT’s (who are excellent. by the way). The best man won, that’s all there is to it. DA should have cleaned up their act a LONG time ago!

    • Ron C. de Weijze April 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      @ Miss Ellie, accusing each other of not knowing the facts isn’t going to get us much further. I always prefer to search for, and hopefully find, independent confirmation. What I believe is true I will let go as soon as I have evidence that disproves it. People should always have the benefit of the doubt but when they very clearly avoid straight answers, that must be over. When Steve Urquhart insists that things are “ever so simple”, avoiding all questions about the conflict of interest in-our-face, he has lost it too. http://www.steveu.com/blog/upgrading-st-george-ambulance-service/#comment-14487

    • Urban Desert April 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      I don’t think the EMTs were EVER the issue here. It’s solely been DA as a company all along! Welcome Gold Cross 🙂

  • ld April 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Dixie ambulance deserved to get their door shut .I am NOT a politician and I have no business interest in gold cross ,I am one of the many people that that have had the worst care possible from Dixie ambulance .and most of the paramedics from Dixie ambulance are now working for gold cross,why dont all of you get your facts straight and realize that your precious Dixie Ambulance was a total disgrace.

    • phantom April 12, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Ld your assertions are lame. You state that you received the worse care possible from Dixie Ambulance. An ambulance never take care of people it is the EMT/Paramedic on the truck. So if personnel from one service is hired to another will not change. The only thing different is the camelion which adapts to the environment. When you call 911 in the future don’t be surprised when it is the same EMT/Paramedic that to survive just changes uniform out of necessity not loyalty.

  • Jerickson April 11, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Good for Gold Cross!!

    Dixie was a bad company treating the employees like crap.

    Starting paramedics at $12 an hour come on, really

    Thats why the best Medics commute to Vegas everyday.

    Also EMS programs at the DSU couldn’t get DAS to help with ride along and clinical s.

    Really bad patient care, outdated systems, no written protocols is it really all that surprising that BEMS took its licenses away.

    This is Free enterprise at its best, competition brings the best service for us the consumer.

  • Bandit April 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Way to go Ron. You sound like a knucklehead whi doesn’t know up from down. DAS is to blame and no one else. Yiur lame threats of lawsuits is idiotic at best. You sound like SUPERDELL schanze, I’ll sue you for this and that. I’ll sue. Come on grow up.how much are yiu getting paid to be the mouthpiece fir DAS. They really shiwed the community what they’re all about by leaving everyone high and dry sunday. Thank God GC can step in and cover fie this irresponsible company. I’ll take a page from Ron. If anything happens to my family and an ambulance doesn’t show up. I’ll take a large chunk of the owners money they took from the company. Because I’ll SUE!!

  • elliemae100 April 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Dixie had 30+ years to grow with the community, and sufficient time to admit where the company was lacking and implement a plan of corrections. Had it chosen to do so, instead of making baseless complaints about corruption, they might still be in business. Perhaps if the owners had used some of the money they drew out from the company to improve it… or to hire someone to support their argument that they met all of the criteria… instead they chose to sit by idly. Their arguments were anecdotal, and so were the fb “likes.”
    – the owners will be fine and hopefully most of the employees will obtain jobs with benefits at companies that value their service. If it hadn’t been Gold Cross, it would have been someone. Dixie was lacking (according to the report) and the community will benefit. Dixie could have improved its service and continued to serve the surrounding community, but instead decided to close up shop.

  • George Saint April 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Living here in the city so many years, I’ve concluded that locals just do not know how to run business. I don’t know if their heads are too into their church life that it interferes or if it’s just a rep of straight good ol’ boy crookedness. Look at the car dealers and smoke shops being busted for scams left and right for example. I realize the fact of the matter regarding DA is more that they couldn’t keep up with growing demand on top of not being able to take care of their EMTs and trucks etc., but at the end of the day, it’s another case of local business failure…

  • Marge with a vengeance! April 11, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hurry up GC, we have people dying here now that DA dipped out on us – early!

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten April 12, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I guess Ron and JJSlice have ALL the facts, answers, etc… I guess they have the inside scoop that not even the media has. Oh well, it is what it is… DAS is no more, they even plan to abandon the city they so love. Bring it on Gold Cross! Oh BTW, Ron, I NEVER drank from the well that is DAS! I just knew a few (or more) of their employees that had NOTHING good to say about the management/owners…

  • MORONi April 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Hey Pamela I guess the staff of Dixie was not as happy as you spouted in earlier articles.

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