ST. GEORGE – During a work meeting Thursday night the St. George City Council discussed a draft of its pending standard of care agreement between the city and its current – and potentially any future – ambulance service providers.
A standard of care agreement includes a list of standards and protocols created by a municipality for an ambulance service to follow. It also measures the ambulance service’s performance in relation to items like personnel training, equipment and vehicle maintenance and response time.
“This is what we want,” City Manager Gary Esplin said.
If the ambulance service does not meet the requirements set forth by the city, it can find itself facing potential penalization, or even replacement.
Points of the proposed standard of care agreement
City Attorney Shawn Guzman went over the proposed agreement, stopping at parts to allow the City Council to discuss certain aspects of the agreement and recommended revisions and additions along the way.
Among the points discussed to be required in the city’s standard of care agreement were the following:
An operations manager/supervisor overseeing the ambulance service must be readily available on a 24-hour basis and shall also be locally accessible (not based out of the county, for example).
Ambulance crews shall update the St. George Communications Center (dispatch) first, before contacting any in-company dispatch center, regarding their operational status and location. This shall be done so the dispatch center has accurate knowledge of where an ambulance is in the city at any given time so they can better respond to and monitor an emergency situation.
“If they’re not going through dispatch, where are they?” Esplin said.
Cindy Flowers, the dispatch center manager, said that if an ambulance provider has its people call an in-house dispatch center before contacting the Communications Center, her department cannot provide the city with accurate time response information needed for performance evaluation.
In relation to response times, the city is also considering implementing a standard response time of 8 minutes to 90 percent of all priority-one emergency calls. Guzman said the city also maintains the right to make determinations on what an acceptable response time is based on conditions at the time as well.
The time response standard the city is considering is based on the industry-wide recommendation recognized in the National Fire Protection Agency, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.
A record of ambulance response times shall be provided to the city from the St. George Communications Center for review. However, Flowers said that their numbers would be invalid if the ambulance provider doesn’t keep the dispatch center updated on where its people are and what their units are doing at all times.
On matters of review, the ambulance provider will provide monthly data to the city for review to ensure compliance with the city’s standard of care ordinance. The city itself shall also maintain a review committee that will evaluate the ambulance provider’s overall performance on an annual basis, or as needed, depending on the circumstances.
Requiring a minimum of four ambulances with Advance Life Support-trained staff stationed throughout St. George at any given time was also discussed.
Should an ambulance provider violate the standard of care agreement, the city may: issue a written warning, initiate a probation period up to 12 months, or revoke the ambulance provider’s city business license. Under state law, an ambulance provider is required to have a business license from the city it operates in.
If the city deems necessary, it may issue an RFP, or request for proposal, which is an open call to other 911 ambulance providers to submit proposals to become the city’s next 911 emergency transport sercice.
“These standards can be met by anyone,” Councilwoman Michele Randall said.
At times during the discussion the mayor and council members sought Randall’s opinion on aspects of the agreement due to her background. Before running for public office, Randall was one of the owners of Dixie Ambulance Service. Dixie Ambulance Service closed it doors just over a year ago after the state Bureau of Emergency Medical Services awarded 911-transport licenses previously held by the local ambulance provider to Salt Lake City-based Gold Cross Ambulance Service.
The city did not vote to approve the standard of care agreement as it is still being reviewed and revised. Once a final version is produced, the agreement, being a proposed city ordinance, will be subject to public hearing at a future date.
The latest version of the draft will be sent to Gold Cross Ambulance Service and BEMS for review. Mayor Jon Pike suggested the agreement be addressed again on May 21, which will allow the current ambulance provider and the state agency time to go over the latest draft.
Absent at the work meeting during the discussion of the standard of care agreement was any representative of Gold Cross Ambulance.
The City of St. George did not have a standard of care agreement between itself and Dixie Ambulance Service when it covered the city. However, as the dispute between the local ambulance service and Salt Lake City-based Gold Cross Ambulance Service began to ramp up in late 2012, city officials began to give the measure more consideration.
Though the city opted not to officially pick sides and left it to BEMS to determine which ambulance service would best serve the city, it nonetheless raised a concern that BEMS may have been deficient in some of its own duties related to the matter.
Gold Cross Ambulance Service
Gold Cross Ambulance Service was not represented at the work meeting Thursday. St. George News requested comment from the company on the proposed standards ordinance but no response has been received as this report is published.
- Officials satisfied with Gold Cross service thus far, continue to evaluate
- Ambulance war: State agency rules in favor of Gold Cross
- Ambulance War: City of St. George rebukes state agency, calls for time for Dixie Ambulance
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