Vail, Beaver Creek patrollers trade in their skis for ambulance keys in Eagle County’s coronavirus fight
Chris Montera’s team at Eagle County Paramedic Services began planning for COVID-19 response in early February, well before the county emerged as an epicenter for the virus.
As they sketched out worst-case scenarios, the first responders and emergency medical technicians kept returning to one question: “What if we get sick?”
“So we started thinking about ways to not just protect ourselves, but how can we build a surge capacity and backfill in case providers get sick,” said Montera, the county’s chief executive of emergency services.
Then, on March 14, hundreds of ski patrollers at Vail and Beaver Creek suddenly lost their jobs when the resorts closed by Gov. Jared Polis’ executive order. Montera developed a quick training program and recruited 20 patrollers to trade in their skis for ambulances. The patrollers — whose jobs require training in emergency medical care — allow the county to deploy as many as six reserve ambulances and help back-up staff should any of the department’s 65 health care providers fall ill.
Emily Selonick joined the ambulance team last month. A Vail ski patroller for eight years, she said the move to emergency care was “a natural fit.”
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