Board OKs additional paramedic, talks merger

By Carolina Brown and Erin McIntyre

After hearing concerns about the strapped resources of Ouray County Emergency Medical Services, county commissioners agreed last week to spend money on an additional paramedic.
Commissioners heard frustrations from EMS providers about difficulties recruiting paramedics or volunteers who want to become certified, at their April 23 meeting in a regular update. They also said the department has challenges in retaining volunteers, due to the stressful, demanding commitment.
“It’s not a hobby, really, it’s a life and a profession,” said Chief Paramedic Kim Mitchell, explaining increased demands for certification and training in recent years have made emergency responders more of a professional career investment than a volunteer opportunity.
“It’s a big commitment as a volunteer,” she said. “It’s not like volunteering to do a rummage sale.”
Despite dedicated volunteers who have the heart, passion and training for EMS, the department needs more paid staff to provide regular service, Mitchell said.
“This may be the only time you will hear me say something like this,” said Commissioner Don Batchelder. “Given this situation, I am not necessarily averse to spending out of fund balance.”

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