Too early to explain the shift in Eagle County Ambulance District calls |

Too early to explain the shift in Eagle County Ambulance District calls

Dustin Racioppi/

EDWARDS, Colorado ” The way the Eagle County Ambulance District does business isn’t changing, but when it does business is.

In recent months, the district has seen a change in its call volumes, logging more weekend responses than during the week.

That’s not the norm for the ski season, said Peter Brandes, operations manager for the district.

“It feels like we’re losing the destination skier,” the district’s Clinical Supervisor, Will Dunn, said, with emphasis on “feels.” “We won’t know until the end of the season.”

In the 2007-08 ski season ” from late November to mid-February ” calls between Tuesday and Thursday ranged from about 175 to just more than 200 then leveled off to around 175 for the weekend.

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So far in 2008, that has shifted, with about 150 calls during the week and calls skyrocketing upwards of 225 on Fridays and Saturdays.

That the district is seeing less work during the week could be a reflection of the economy’s effect on visitors coming to Vail and Beaver Creek. A recent Vail Daily article pointed out that ski-season sales tax at Vail’s restaurants, lodges and shops has been down from last year, which may or may not correlate with the district’s recent change in workload.

“The traditional resort person comes in on a Sunday and leaves Saturday. This year, we see much bigger weekends and slower weekdays,” Brandes said, and pointed to the possibility that the Epic Pass could be playing a role in when visitors are coming to the area. “My interpretation of that is the Epic Pass skiers are day skiers. Well, day skiers don’t spend money at shops like destination skiers do.

“To me, that reflects an interesting change in demographics.”

There’s also a chance that there is no connection at all. Breakdowns of ski visits won’t be available until after the ski season, Brandes said.

“I’ll be very interested to see when they finally do release those final numbers,” he said.

Despite the change, the district isn’t altering the way it runs. As usual, there will still be three full-time and two part-time ambulances running for the winter, as well as three in the summer.

“Even if you’re doing nothing, you’ve got to be ready,” Brandes said.

The different variables thrown into the equation leave an amount of uncertainty in why the district is witnessing this change in demographics. The economy is slow, last ski season was record-breaking, the county is growing, and there is no predictability in when somebody will get injured and need an ambulance

It could very well be that there are more accident-prone skiers and snowboarders on the mountain during the weekend. Or, the weekday injuries just aren’t that bad. But the change in call volumes does raise eyebrows.

“It’s a small percentage of people who need (an) ambulance for Vail Mountain,” Dunn said. “But it’s constant.”

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