Eagle County Ambulance District sees second-busiest year | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Ambulance District sees second-busiest year

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

EDWARDS, Colorado – Eagle County Ambulance District logged its second busiest year in 2011. The district responded to 3,436 calls for service in 2011, including 268 transfers to regional hospitals. The call load was highest in March with 493 calls and 27 patient transfers, attributed to the good snow conditions and visitors to the area.

“Our calls are function of how many visitors we have and how bad the roads are,” said Fred Morrison, district manager. “With the poor snow in December, we showed a significant decrease in calls compared to 2010.”

December, which is typically one of the busiest months, was considerably slower than years past, with calls down by more than 20 percent. Conversely, paramedics were requested more often in the usually slower summer months with calls up by 23 percent in September.

The 2011 call load numbers reflect a 13 percent increase in actual patients transferred over a five-year period. Last year, the district transferred 268 patients, a majority to Denver hospitals. Thirty-nine of the patients transferred were at the highest level of critical care that requires a specialized paramedic.

“A lot of people don’t realize the level of specialized care that we offer. What sets us apart from other ambulance services is our critical care transport programs,” Morrison said. “Thirteen of our 24 paramedics have the ability to offer the highest level of care in the most critical of situations.”

This select group of paramedics functions with special waivers, meaning they can administer medications and perform procedures that are outside the normal scope of paramedics. Because of this, the district is called upon to transfer patients to regional hospitals more often despite the addition of the region’s new medical helicopter.-

“It is extremely rare that an ambulance cannot make it to Denver,” said Peter Brandes, the district’s operations manager. “It may be slow going but our vehicles are extremely capable in the severe winter conditions.”-

To handle its call load and remain adequately prepared for any contingency, the district staffs three full paramedic crews during the winter months around the clock, with an additional daytime crew from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Ambulances can be added to the system as needed through the use of on-call personnel when call load dictates.-The year 2011 showed a slight increase over the previous year, but the busiest year was still 2008 when crews responded to 3,718 calls including 2,151 transports and 256 transfers.

The Eagle County Ambulance District, founded in 1982, provides emergency medical response service to 770 square miles of eastern Eagle County including the communities of Vail, Eagle-Vail, Minturn, Red Cliff, Avon, Beaver Creek, Edwards, Wolcott, Bond, McCoy, and 46 miles of I-70.

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