Ambulance War: City of St. George rebukes state agency, calls for time for Dixie Ambulance

ST. GEORGE – In response to the recent Recommended Final Order issued in the application bid of Gold Cross Ambulance for St. George territory, currently held by Dixie Ambulance Service, the City of St. George today issued its responsive letter in the matter to the Utah Department of Health and to the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

In short, the City expressed surprise and concern at the deficiencies found against Dixie Ambulance but had equal surprise and concern for the state agency’s failure in oversight and enforcement of standards. It urged BEMS to provide Dixie Ambulance time to correct deficiencies before action against it is taken.

The letter, signed by each of the five city council members and the mayor, expressed alternating concern and surprise for the findings that Dixie Ambulance has failed to meet state standards and is not financially viable.

At the same time, the City expressed concern and surprise at the failure of the state agency, BEMS, to set the standard for delivery of the emergency medical services and to provide oversight and enforcement of the standards upon Dixie Ambulance:

“While the City does not dispute the findings regarding the financial status of DAS, the City questions how a state agency, whose job it is (to) ensure that license holders are financially viable to provide this essential and critical service, only became aware of this fact at the same time as the City, and only due to the license application process initiated by Gold Cross. Furthermore, the Recommended Order states that DAS is in violation of Utah administrative rules, does not meet industry operational standards governing EMS staffing requirements, maintenance and inventory requirements, and ambulance response times, and, in addition to the aforementioned questionable financial solvency, is ‘likely unable to continue providing quality ambulance services that St. George deserves and requires in the future.’ If this lengthy process had not been initiated by the application of Gold Cross, what action would the State have taken of its own accord to discover and address these serious issues and when?

In that the state has established protocols for correction of deficiencies and that the state has failed in oversight, the City’s letter states that it would be appropriate for the state to allow Dixie Ambulance a short period of time to correct its deficiencies before the state takes the “drastic measure of taking away the license and providing it to another provider.”

The City also acknowledged the support of its citizens for Dixie Ambulance delivered at the December 3, 2012, public comment hearing. It said that while the public did not address the statutory requirements for an EMS provider per se, it does not appear they were aware of the deficiencies discovered through the application process.  “Those comments should not go unconsidered,” the letter states.

Further, the City addressed testimony taken through the hearing process concerning the St. George Communication Center, the City’s 911 dispatch service. The City’s letter noted conflicts in testimony and said it stands by the data produced by its dispatch personnel and the findings made by the hearing officer concerning its credibility:

“The City believes that the technology is available for DAS to correct any deficiencies in response times should DAS invest in such technology.”

In concluding that the state provided insufficient oversight in inspecting and informing Dixie Ambulance of the Recommened Final Order’s described deficiencies, the City requests the state allow Dixie Ambulance an appropriate amount of time to correct them and come into compliance with statutory requirements.

Read the letter here: City of St. George Ambulance Response Letter.

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  • better late than never February 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    They have had 2 years since Gold Cross submitted its application, 2 years since IHC said no more we are getting our own ambulance to do our transfers. Is this town run by a bunch of democrats? They are usually the ones who can’t accept the facts and need to blame everybody else but those who are trully at fault. What level of liability will the city accept if somebody does die from this. Remeber even the city has now accepted that Dixie is unable to do its job therefore they are probably now liable for any harm brought on by a substandard EMS system.

    • Ron February 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      I’d have a lot more respect for you and your opinion if you didn’t find it necessary to include a completely irrelevant and nonsensical slur aimed at Democrats. If someone with your apparent level of intelligence is backing Gold Cross, I’m thinking maybe Dixie Ambulance might be a better choice.

  • STG Citizen February 5, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    All I’m going to say is that Dixie Ambulance has much cooler bags. It could have been settled on this fact alone.

  • McArthur Hates Progress February 6, 2013 at 12:05 am

    All of this stinks of more good ol’ boy mentality and putting supposed “city pride” over what’s best for the particular situation. I wouldn’t bat an eye if it turns out Dixie Ambulance ends up killing someone. Just let the “out of towners” run things better like what usually happens.

  • JJ Slice February 6, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Wow. Jon Pike (employed by IHC/Select Health), the guy who conspired with Gold Cross’s attorney (and State Senator Urquhart) must be planning for an election. He was all for sending Dixie Ambulance packing when he didn’t think it would cause a stir. Now that the people have caught on to his darkroom shenanigan he is marching in step with the good ol’ boy caucus.

    Here is the thing, if you think Dixie Ambulance should go Jon then do it right and stick to your guns. Jon has several problems that I am sure complicate the way he votes on this issue. First, he is the guy who threw Dixe Ambulance under the bus in an effort support his chrony and friend Urquhart and “return some favors” so to speak. It was two politicians sacrificing a business they weren’t affiliated to benefit a business they were affiliated with and for their own benefit. Jon Pike personally benefited by warming the seat of Urquhart (who just happens to contribute his extra campaig money to Jon Pike or Pike’s family) and it benefitted Urquhart by landing his client, Gold Cross, a nice contract in a new market. But now Jon has been called on the turf with elections coming right up and he knows that he can’t afford to lose many votes.

    Poor Jon. Urquhart deserves to be scrutinized as well.

  • Former LEO February 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Isn’t it funny how the city council took the middle ground on this entire argument until, it seems, their pockets were lined with the misspent profits from DAS?!? I recall reading recently that the city was going to let the process takes its course then go with the recommendation from the state… I KNOW the city well and how it functions, if there wasn’t something in it for the city, then they would just stay out of it! I recall a few years ago when the city contemplated starting and using a city owned/operated ambulance service because DAS was not providing the level of service they had promised. Oh well, I just hope I NEVER have to use either service for myself or my loved ones but I’m glad someone is there to do the job…

  • Paraminnick February 6, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I am a Gold Cross Employee (as I’ve stated many times before) and I know that Gold Cross is the best private ambulance service I know of. That being said remember that the Paramedics of DAS are great paramedics who deliever the best care that DAS allows them to with the limited resources they have, they just work for a poorly managed company. Don’t hesitate to call them if you need them.

    • paramedic February 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      TRUE… it aint the business that gives good care its the Medics!!! no matter where they work or who they work for!!! DAS “the business” in horrible at best… but the medics and emt’s… they are what keep the community smilling!!! The community should know this!!! WAKE UP ST.GEORGE !!!!!!

  • McArthur Hates Progress February 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    It’s hilarious reading this letter. That it’s a shock to the City that DAS as been performing under state standards is ridiculous. The City is going to blame the State for not pointing this out sooner? Are you kidding me? Who’s running the City then?

    So you’re going to blame the state for not babysitting you and then you’re going to ask it for time to correct this… Wow. Good Luck Saint George, may I present your duly elected officials!

    • Zeke February 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Hello………….The ambulance services throughout the state are controlled by the “State” The state issues the license and “should” monitor and observe as they deem necessary. It’s not the City’s job to step in and do the State’s job for them.

  • Val February 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Since Gold Cross wants the St. George area so bad, where were they 30 years ago? Oh, that’s right, they didn’t want it until they could make more $$$!

  • paramedic February 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Actually.. I like the idea of giving DAS a chance to step up to the plate… they would have a chance to hit a home run here!!! DAS… listen carefully!!! Start paying your Medics 15.00 base pay and more for experienced medics!!! Offer medical and dental insurance for full timers, offer a 401K … upgrade your ambulances!!! ALL of them and your resue trucks… get better ECG monitors.. invest in stateof the art capnography… treat your emplyeees like you actually want them to stay and retire at DAS!!! you do this … you’ll hit a home run and you will be in St.George forever… fall short and GUARANTEED you will have this situation on your doorstep again… and the next time there won’t ne much support… GUARANTEED!!

  • Bill Lewis February 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    another big company putting mom and pop out of busness in a local comunity

    • Ron C. de Weijze February 8, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Two evils: big government and politics or big business and politics.

      Example of the latter: “Dixie officials also pointed out connections between the hearing officer, Salt Lake City attorney Maxwell Miller, and Gold Cross attorney Alan Sullivan, both of whom have served on the board of trustees for the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. Dixie officials also suggested that Gold Cross attorney Stephen Urquhart, who is also a state senator and represents the St. George area, used his influence as a legislator to help his client.”

      Which is worst?

  • Bender February 7, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Can anyone speak to the pay differential between the two organizations? If Dixie is not paying a living wage and Gold Cross is that is reason enough to consider a change.

  • DoubleTap February 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    It’s ALWAYS about the $$$$$….any way you slice it.

  • Austin Miller February 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I would like to comment on the remarks from Bender regarding pay withDixie Ambulance. Currently I am a Dixie Ambulance Paramedic. It is clear to me after hearing several comments about pay that I needed to express my opinion.

    It is a well established fact that Dixie Ambulance is not a top payer in our community. However, all employees who work for the organization are made aware of the pay they will receive before they agree to work for them.

    We live in a free market society where employment is “at-will”. Each individual has the freedom to choose who they work for. A physcian who is capable of making $500,000 / year has the option of fast food at $8.00 / hour. This is completely up to the individual where they work. Typically heavy consideration goes into the whole picture of where you work. For example one may consider benefits versus pay versus retirement options versus work environment.

    I personally choose to work for Dixie Ambulance for several reasons. First I love the community I live in and the people who I serve. Secondly, the individuals at DAS have become family to me, and we work very well together. In addition to that, the owners create a family feel to the workplace where opinions can be expressed without hesitation and the growth of the individual employee is optimized. Fourth, every employee at DAS has a comittment to themselves in doing something greater than their own selves. This means they take advantage of the oppurtunity to serve others.

    To answer your question of whether or not pay should be the primary factor in revoking the license of DAS, I strongly suggest that no it is not. Everyone who works at DAS is informed of their pay and still works there for all the other benefits of employment at that organization. Secondly, it is of no concern of the licensing organization (BEMS) what employees are paid as long as the complany is complient with Federal and State labor laws, which DAS is within the boundaries.

    Being an experienced EMS provider and a critical care RN, I strongly suggest to any paramedic who makes a consideration for employment stricly on pay to truely consider what they are in the job for. If higher pay is a priority to them, then places such as Las Vegas, Nevada strongly welcome those indivdiuals.

  • Bender February 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Austin, my concern is whether or not the salary allows you to make a career out of being an EMT with Dixie. We all know what it costs to buy a home and raise a family in St. George and it is North of $15/hr. Fuzzy warm feelings don’t put braces on the kids, make mortgage payments and bank money for missions and college.

    Are Dixie employees all part-time employees doing this as a side gig? How do you survive on the low wages? Are the DAS owners just miking a cash cow and not reimbursing their employees fairly? If Gold Cross can offer better wages and better service what’s the downside?

    I would still like to hear from anyone that knows what the pay differential is between the two companies.

    • ken February 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      You have no concern for anything other then GC. Your intention is nothing but trying to stir the pot. Sorry that you can’t and don’t want to accept what Austin an employee of DAS has said. Build a bridge and get over it!

      • bender February 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        Sour, partisan comment noted.

        The situation is sizing up to look like this: Local business that has had a lucrative concession is being challenged by a better run, better paying and more professional organization from the Wasatch Front. City initially stays neutral but is drug into fight because mayor and city council members each have a brother-in-law or high priest’s quorum buddy that wants them to help out a friend. Just like the Dixie State renaming controversy, it’s an “us against them” fight for the locals. We have our own special way of doing things down here which often includes paying our employees starvation wages while we keep a houseboat at Powell and a cabin in Pine Valley.

  • Bland n Batty February 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Why has no one addressed the real issue here: That anything with “Dixie” in its name is obviously racist! Why can’t they be the Red Storm Ambulance Service?!

  • Local business owner February 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I own a trucking company here in St George and there are rules and regulations that I must follow. They don’t come and read me these rules or hold my hand for years while I “try” to get in compliance. It’s my job as a owner to read and research all regulations. If I choose to send a truck out of my yard that is not current on all regulations and he gets stopped at the port of entry he is immediately put out of service. That truck cannot leave that port until he is in compliance!! There’s no good ol boys telling me to work on it as soon as possible. Get your business in order or let a professional company move in.

    • Ron C. de Weijze February 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

      All local business owners must comply to these standards. DAS is no exception, according to their letter to the Dr. David Patton, Executive Director, Utah Department of Health, in response to the Recommended Final Order. You be the judge:

      Please don’t forget what cronyism or big business and politics can do for a license seeking company. The power of the group versus the private enterprise, even at the State Senator’s level. Maybe as bad as big government and politics.

  • wife of Dixie Ambulance current Employee and former Gold Cross employee February 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

    My husband has worked for both companies. We lived in Salt Lake 11 years ago and moved to St. George 8 years ago. When I look at the two companies and the amount of training offered, Dixie is far superior. They offer monthly training and many more opportunities for him to get his continuing education hours. Gold Cross expected him to do it on his own. Dixie has also offered him many opportunities to help with making the company better while at Gold Cross, they didn’t encourage employee suggestions for improvement. I also know that during the hearing, Dixie brought forth evidence to disprove the claims that Gold Cross brought forth. If you listen to the hearings, you will see that the claims are not validated. It is also noteworthy that Mike Moffit, one of the owners of Gold Cross, is on the State Board of EMS and that the hearing officer’s finding is almost identical to the complaint that was filed. Dixie Ambulance is working hard to improve, and would definitely be able to invest more money into improving if they didn’t have to spend money in lawyer fees each month ( for almost 2 years now) to defend against these attacks.

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