OPINION – I have never taken a ride in an ambulance, which I am grateful for, to say the least. Yet, if I did, I realize that my very life could depend on the trained individuals that come to my rescue. The recent debate over which ambulance company should serve this region, is a discussion worth having, namely because it affects every single one of us regardless of age, gender or race.
Dixie Ambulance has been serving our area for almost 30 years. Complaint free, and apparently, “strike free” of employees seeking higher salaries from the company, Dixie Ambulance has demonstrated that they are quite possibly doing a great job.
Gold Cross Ambulance Services are seeking to take over, not buy out, Dixie Ambulance’s service contract to provide the 911 services. Vying to take over the contract, Gold Cross is confident that they can offer better services than Dixie Ambulance for the same state-regulated prices. They claim they can offer, “more bang for the buck.”
In 2006, Gold Cross sued Salt Lake City in an attempt to keep their sole contract to provide service after a careful vetting process determined that the competitor, Southwest Ambulance Service, was found to give better overall services and have better overall training than Gold Cross. Gold Cross lost their coveted contract to Southwest.
If Gold Cross offered great quality and more efficiency for the price, why did it lose the contract to Southwest Ambulance Services and why do they think they can offer better services than what Dixie Ambulance is providing currently?
Gold Cross claims that they can offer our area more; among which would be a two-man paramedic team at all times, not just when necessary as Dixie provides – even though having a two-man paramedic team has not proven to provide more quality of care. Lawyers for Gold Cross are also asserting that Dixie Ambulance has taken far too much in profit while employees are not being compensated enough. The last time I checked, business owners do tend to take most of the profit because they incur great risk with their investment dollars and employees are paid what they agree to and usually not more than that. This happens every day in America. The bottom line is, if Dixie Ambulance employees do not like their compensation, they can strike; it is an option but that has not happened.
I am in full support of free enterprise. Competition is healthy and can increase productivity when businesses have to vie for the dollar from the public. Monopolies can create laziness in striving to deliver superior services to those they serve. Nevertheless, in this region, there is only room or business enough for one ambulance service; so a monopoly is mandated. We, the citizens, are left to hope that the ambulance company that is chosen to perform the work is providing the very best possible service.
So far, there has been no substantial evidence that Dixie Ambulance has not offered great quality care and great services.
This debate is not about public vs. private service providers; both Dixie and Gold Cross are private companies. The debate centers around which company can meet the needs of the community they serve.
If Dixie Ambulance had numerous lawsuits or complaints, or if they did not offer great response times or superbly trained employees, I would agree that it was time for a new company to be given a chance to outshine them and win the contract.
As a citizen, if I know that Utah Emergency Services was holding Dixie Ambulance to a very high standard and Dixie Ambulance was meeting the high bar year after year, then by all means, Dixie Ambulance should be allowed to retain the service contract and continue to provide the 911 services to our community. The administration of Dixie Ambulance and its employees have a stake in this community.
This battle of the ambulance companies will only help to bring more transparency to an industry that should continuously strive to raise the bar when competition cannot directly ensure those results.
This debate and quest for a takeover has been a healthy wakeup call for all of us.
Gold Cross’s desire to take over the service has made the public more aware of what kind of service expectations we should have of our ambulatory services and it was a wakeup call for our city leaders to demand the very best from private industries that stand to profit through the advantage of being a monopoly.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.
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